Why Apply?


Caperton WhyApply

What is the American College Application Campaign (ACAC)?

First, thank you to ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning for inviting the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) to guest blog. ACAC is the American Council on Education’s (ACE) national initiative to increase the number of students who apply to and enroll in college, with a particular focus on students from low-income families and first-generation students. We work with all 50 states and the District of Columbia as they coordinate school day college application programs each fall. During the 2015 initiative, almost 4,900 schools across the country hosted college application programs resulting in around 355,000 students submitting approximately 570,000 college applications. This fall, we estimate around 6,000 high schools will participate.

Why did ACE undertake this initiative?

As the nation’s largest higher education organization, ACE is focused on improving access to postsecondary education. Molly Corbett Broad, who serves as ACE’s president, was president of the University of North Carolina System when it coordinated the first college application event at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, NC in the fall of 2005. The program grew each year, eventually becoming a statewide initiative. Recognizing the impact ACAC had on students in North Carolina—on average, 72 percent of participants in the college application initiative went on to enroll in college the next fall—and the importance of engaging underserved students in the college-going process, President Broad embraced the opportunity to leverage ACE’s leadership within the higher education community to expand ACAC to a national initiative.

What makes ACAC so important?

Education has often been called the great equalizer, and the positive impact on lifetime earnings and job security has been well documented. But in addition to the economic benefits higher education provides for individuals, their communities, and the nation, there are a number of other positive impacts. Lumina’s report, “It’s Not Just the Money – The Benefits of College Education to Individuals and Society,” found that individuals with a college degree are healthier, happier and more likely to be civically engaged than high school graduates who never attend college. ACAC supports students through the college application process to ensure all students, especially underserved students, have the opportunity to participate in higher education and the benefits it provides.

How can someone get involved?

We encourage anyone interested in learning more about ACAC to visit our website at: www.acenet.edu/acac, where you’ll find information regarding your state’s ACAC initiative. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see the great work ACAC is doing nationwide.


ACAC has asked the nation to share their individual reasons for going to college on social media using #whyapply. Our goal is to encourage and inspire all students to participate in the college-going process. Please visit us on Facebook and Twitter to celebrate all the important and unique stories being told, including tips provided by some of the nation’s leaders in college access and success during a recent Twitter chat ACAC hosted with ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning. And of course, we’d love for you to share your own #whyapply story!

Melissa Caperton directs the American College Application Campaign (ACAC), housed at the American Council on Education. Prior to joining the ACAC team, Melissa was Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) federal grant project in North Carolina. She is the first college graduate in her family and received her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech where she studied Political Science. She received a Master of Public Policy from the College of William and Mary.