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Equity in Education: We're All In

For too many people, college admissions—and all the trauma and drama that can come with it—has become a zero-sum game.

Newspapers publish articles describing the overwhelming odds against being admitted to the nation’s most selective institutions and follow up those stories with cautionary tales about the quarter-million dollar, four-year sticker prices awaiting those “lucky” enough to get in.

Throw in a warning about the trillion-plus dollars in cumulative student loan debt across the United States, and students are left to weather a perfect storm of academic anxiety.

If we were better at providing the larger perspective, each of these stories would be told in a different way.

Cooperative, not Competitive

Instead of obsessing over a handful of highly selective institutions, it would be more productive to remind students there are hundreds of colleges and universities that might be thrilled to have them as students—and for which they might be perfect fits.

Instead of focusing on fees that can run tens of thousands of dollars per year—or even per semester—it would be better to explain to students that, after grants and scholarships are taken into account, the net costs are often much more family-friendly, and that affordable options exist for virtually all students.

Instead of fixating on the trillion dollars in nationwide student debt, it would be wiser to remind young people they can and should be careful shoppers. In no other realm do we let 17-year-olds make financial decisions that can affect their lives for decades; somehow, though, we think that, when it comes time to paying for college, it’s OK to send students to the school of hard knocks.

At ACT, we don’t think that’s OK. We are committed to making education more affordable and accessible, from offering fee waivers to providing free learning materials.

Inviting, not Intimidating

ACT has programs designed to help people succeed across the spectrum of their lives. Our programs begin in elementary school, because we know that once you get behind, it can be hard to catch up. We want individuals to start strong and stay strong.

To those ends, we have open educational resources and free test prep programs that help students learn and show what they know. We offer supports for English learners so they can fairly demonstrate what they have learned. We have programs, such as ACT® CollegeReady™, that can help young people transition from high school to college while avoiding remedial programs that increase costs while decreasing the likelihood of graduation.

As we continue to advance our mission to help people achieve education and workplace success, there will be many more resources and solutions to come.

A Name, not a Number

The education system won’t truly work until it works for everyone.

There are millions of people across the United States and billions more worldwide who have deeply held hopes and dreams. At ACT, we are working to help them by opening doors that have too often been closed.

We are all in this together. And if we all remember that, we’ll do just fine.

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About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career.