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Fourth Annual #WhyApply Day Inspires Thousands of Students to Apply to College

Celebration More Important Than Ever This Application Season as Pandemic Disrupts College-Going Plans

IOWA CITY, Iowa—The American College Application Campaign (ACAC), which encourages thousands of high school students to explore and pursue a college degree or other higher education credential each year through applying to colleges, today kicks off a robust season of activities designed to encourage more students—particularly those who are from populations that are traditionally underserved—to apply to college.

As it celebrates the fourth annual #WhyApply Day social media event, ACAC is finding creative ways to overcome COVID-19 disruptions.

“The path this year for high school students pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential will look and feel different because of COVID-19 and the necessary social distancing changes,” said Lisa King, director, ACAC. “It is important that we all come together and remind students—especially Black, Native American, Latinx and first-generation students—that planning for the future must go on, even during the current challenges.”

By removing the pre-existing barriers that prevent some students from applying to college, ACAC aims to ensure that all high school seniors complete at least one college application.

Ideas, Tools for #WhyApply Day

Today, on #WhyApply Day, supporters will wear their college gear and share why they believe students should apply to college on social media channels. They’ll write their answers on the #WhyApply printout (English and Spanish) or digital template and post a photo or video with the statement, using the hashtag #WhyApply and tagging ACAC handles (Twitter: @American_CAC, Instagram: @american_cac, Facebook: @AmericanCAC).

In 2019, ACAC supported more than 20 percent of the 2020 high school graduating class on the path to college going. Nearly 7,300 high schools hosted campaign events that assisted more than 760,000 seniors with submitting at least one college application. This led to more than 1.2 million college applications being submitted during ACAC events.

High schools interested in organizing a college application event can register as official host sites to demonstrate their commitment to supporting seniors through the college application process.

College Degree Even More Valuable During Downturn

Advocates point out that even during this economic downturn, the value of a college degree remains very strong. Bloomberg reports that “of the 20 million Americans who have lost their job in the virus-induced crisis, many more have been individuals without a college education than those with at least a bachelor’s degree.” The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce also highlights statistics that show significantly less unemployment for Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher during the pandemic. As COVID-19 affects college-going plans, underserved students in particular are at risk of falling through the cracks within higher education.

“Higher education will continue to determine the future of our nation,” said Janet Godwin, chief executive officer, ACT. “ACAC, which is part of ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, is committed to keeping the Class of 2021 on track to apply to college. We believe investing in one’s education is a smart way to deal with uncertainty, as students pursue education beyond high school.”

Research has shown that most U.S. colleges admit those who apply to them, discounting fears that students can’t get in. By joining the campaign, school counselors and educators can tap into resources to support students in their postsecondary planning and guide students through the college application process.

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.

The Campaign is conducted state by state and each state determines which week or month is officially designated as the College Application Campaign. Events across the country often take place between September-December.

Many states are also connecting college application completion events with FAFSA completion and College Signing Day celebrations. After submitting the admissions application, some events encourage students to register for their FSA ID and are provided with the date of their state’s FAFSA completion event to ensure they complete the admissions process and apply for financial aid.

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.