September 14, 2021
#WhyApply Day Aims to Help Students Overcome College Application Hurdles Made More Challenging During the Pandemic
Half-a-million students expected to participate in American College Application Campaign that asks them to imagine ‘What If?’
IOWA CITY, Iowa — High school seniors, facing challenges caused by COVID-19 disruptions, have an ally in their efforts to make plans for what happens after they graduate.
Friday, Sept. 17, the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) will hold its annual #WhyApply Day, kicking off a season of activities designed to encourage more students to apply to college, particularly those who are systemically underserved, including students from low-income families as well as Black, Latinx, and Native American students.
ACAC, a major effort within ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, expects 6,000 U.S. high schools and nearly 500,000 students around the country to participate in events, ranging from taking part in #WhyApply Day to hosting college application completion events that will occur from now until December.
Supporters say this effort is especially important this year, as today’s students are facing an unprecedented set of obstacles. In support of #WhyApply Day, the social media campaign asks students “What If?” as a way for students to express their aspirations and think introspectively while providing ACAC stakeholders and those who work directly with students with a conversation starter.
Research is providing more insights about students’ roadblocks as they navigate the college-going process. Strada Education Network surveyed more than 1,000 graduates from 2020 and 2021 students who wanted to enroll in postsecondary education but have postponed their plans; they asked students what would have been the most helpful resources for them to reconnect with their education aspirations. Respondents said better guidance on their pathways, support to understand and access financing, and clearer understanding of the connections between education and a career would have been the most helpful.
In addition, responding students said stress and anxiety had the most effect on their decisions to delay their education.
“The pandemic has challenged our communities and we’ve all rallied to overcome the significant obstacles it’s presented for the college-going process. An important part of the solution is ensuring high school seniors know that they are supported with college advising, tools for success, and insights into the college admissions process. #WhyApply Day is a signal for the Class of 2022 to know they have a support network when applying to college,” says Lisa King, director, American College Application Campaign.
By removing the barriers that often prevent some students from applying to college, ACAC aims to ensure that all high school seniors complete at least one college application. Since the national campaign’s inception in 2005, more than 3.69 million students have applied to college, due in part to ACAC’s efforts, and together with ACT and the Center’s many collaborators, it aims to reach more students and help them fulfill their higher education and career aspirations.
To achieve this success, state leaders, school staff, and community members provide students with individualized support and assistance as they prepare for and complete the college application process.
On #WhyApply Day, the following will take place:
- students and supporters will use their social media accounts to answer the question “Why apply to college?” with the hashtag #WhyApply. They’ll post videos and pictures depicting their reasons or write their answers with the #WhyApply template and post a picture;
- students, educators and others will wear their college gear (t-shirt, hats, pins, etc.), hold pep rallies, and share why they believe students should apply to college and/or why they applied to college; and
- supporters will prepare for additional rallies, support sessions, and activities throughout the fall in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.Educators can register their high school to participate at https://bit.ly/ACAC2021register About ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning
“Why Apply Day is an exciting day, as high school seniors in communities across the country take the next step on their college-going journeys. In the coming weeks and months there will be opportunities for them to learn more about life after high school and to apply to colleges that fit their needs. When students imagine ‘What If?’, we’re proud the American College Application Campaign will be there with answers and support,” said Janet Godwin, ACT CEO.
Educators can register their high school to participate at https://bit.ly/ACAC2021register
Digital assets to participate in #WhyApply Day are available at https://equityinlearning.act.org/acac/resources/why-apply/
About ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning
ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning focuses on closing gaps in equity, opportunity, and achievement for underserved populations and working learners. Through purposeful investments, employee engagement, and thoughtful advocacy efforts, the Center supports innovative partnerships, actionable research, initiatives, campaigns, and programs to further ACT’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success. http://equityinlearning.act.org
About the American College Application Campaign
The American College Application Campaign® (ACAC) is a national initiative designed to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families who pursue a postsecondary degree. The purpose is to assist high school seniors as they navigate the college application and admissions process and ensure each participating student submits at least one admissions application. https://equityinlearning.act.org/acac