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ACT’s American College Application Campaign Honors High Schools Across US With School of Excellence Awards

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The American College Application Campaign (ACAC), a national effort to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential, today announced its 2021 School of Excellence award winners, a group of exemplary schools across the nation that are helping students pursue postsecondary success.

ACAC selected the Schools of Excellence based on their demonstrated commitment to student success and for serving as an exemplary model for their state’s college application campaign. This is the third year that ACAC has recognized outstanding schools.

The 19 winning schools, listed below, were key contributors in helping ACAC reach the following national achievements, as reported by 45 state campaigns on the 2021 annual survey:
  • nearly 5,170 high schools hosted a College Application Campaign event;
  • more than 222,600 seniors submitted at least one college application during events; and
  • roughly 460,600 applications were submitted during 2021 College Application Campaign events.
The winning schools will receive a plaque and be celebrated during virtual ceremonies.

“Congratulations to the 2021 Schools of Excellence, as they are exemplars of commitment to student success,” ACT CEO Janet Godwin said. “These educators, along with American College Application Campaign collaborators nationwide, are doing critical work to help students discover and fulfill their potential, even as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts a third academic year. Their commitment should compel us all to listen to and learn from these schools and share their successful approaches with other schools and educators, states and districts, and policymakers across the country.”

Each year, ACAC works with designated coordinators in every state and the District of Columbia to host college application events and reach students in their schools and communities, encouraging them to apply to college. Activities to encourage college applications at the 2021 Schools of Excellence included one-on-one mentoring, guest speakers, parents’ nights, and support for pursuing financial aid.

“In the face of so many challenges that students and educators continue to experience, it’s encouraging to see the support from everyone who played a role in making the Schools of Excellence leaders in the college-going effort,” ACAC Director Lisa King said. “Their work encouraging high school seniors to pursue postsecondary education and workforce plans despite ongoing uncertainty due to the pandemic matters because higher education will determine the future of our nation. We’re proud the Schools of Excellence are helping to remove the barriers to postsecondary education access that often drive income inequities.”

Nationally, more than 3.9 million students have been served by ACAC and 6.4 million applications have been submitted since the Campaign began in 2005.

School of Excellence Award Winners

About the American College Application Campaign

The American College Application Campaign® (ACAC), a national initiative of ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, is 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.

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 national leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in over 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. Visit us at

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