Turning #WhyApply into #IApplied

Last month, we asked everyone – counselors, college advisers, mentors, community leaders, etc. – to share their #WhyApply to college reasons on social media. We had an incredible response of motivating and inspiring messages for students, but it’s also important to take time to look at the student experience when applying to college and what a college application event means to the students themselves.

I recently chatted with two 2019 graduates from Fontana High School in Fontana, Calif. to talk about their experience applying to college last year and check in as they start their first semesters as college students. Fontana High School is one of 69 high schools in California to participate in the California College Application and Success Campaign, organized by the California Region of AVID Center.

Jason Velasquez, a freshman attending Crafton Hills Community College in Yucaipa, CA, remembers feeling anxious and excited about the college application process. As the first person in his family to go to college, he and his family were clueless about the process.

“My family knows it’s important to continue your education. To get a job. But the application day helped my family understand what to expect from college,” he said. My parents could ask questions and get guidance. It helped manage doubts and concerns.”

We know that many students in eighth grade will tell you that they plan to go to college, yet, we lose a number of those students during the application process. Some students do not apply, apply very late in their senior year, or do not apply to colleges that align with their goals and talents. Unfortunately, this disproportionally affects minority students, students from low-income backgrounds, and first-generation students.

“I was really, really nervous and overwhelmed,” shared Destiny Ramos Velasquez (no relation), a freshman at California State University, San Bernardino. “I wondered if I was going to get fee waivers to cover all of schools I wanted to apply to.”

During College Application Day at Fontana High School, families are encouraged to attend. This is to help answer questions for both students and their parents or guardians in an effort to help manage any fears or doubts.

“You could feel the support. The vibe in the air,” said Jason Velasquez. “If it wasn’t for College Application Day, I don’t think I would have done the application right. I was clueless on what to do. Volunteers took you step by step and helped you out.”

One thing we know for sure is that completing a college application is a critical and necessary step in the college-going process. Students like Jason and Destiny can’t go to college if they don’t apply. ACAC is helping open the doors to postsecondary opportunity by providing a network of support to students as they prepare for and complete the college application process. The American College Access Campaign events empower students with information to make the best decision for them. We provide resources and encouragement to explore what is important to them, what their goals are, and how their academics align with various institutional requirements to identify colleges that are a good match and fit – academically, financially, and from a lifestyle perspective.

“It was exciting to put myself out there and apply for my future.” – Destiny Ramos Velasquez