Skip to content

ACT Newsroom & Blog

Hide All News & Blogs View All News & Blogs

How Are You Celebrating College Applicants This Fall?

Park Center Senior High School students pose with a Hennepin Technical College pennant.
By: Lisa King, director, American College Application Campaign

Each fall, ACT’s American College Application Campaign (ACAC) hosts the #WhyApply social media campaign to encourage students across the country as they apply to college and plan for their futures. This year, on Sept. 22, we will recognize the nearly 300,000 students who will participate in college application events at 6,000 high schools.

But who says the celebration should be limited to one day? Quite the opposite, according to ACAC’s School of Excellence winners. These educators have demonstrated exemplary success in helping to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. And their events, and similar events in nearly all states and the District of Columbia, span from August to November.

When a college application season winds down, counselors and students have a lot to reflect on. Successful schools tend to host a wide array of programming for students, from pre- and post-application workshops to guest speakers.

“As we know, families have varying levels of experience with the college application process,” said Michaela Thomas, former school counselor at Littleton High School in Littleton, New Hampshire. “Building events into the school day ensures students are given the space to complete their applications and do so to the fullest extent with your team’s knowledge.”

Park Center Senior High School students pose with a Hennepin Technical College pennant.
In Minnesota, Park Center Senior High School students learned about Hennepin Technical College during the school’s College Knowledge Month. Credit: Minnesota Goes to College

Park Center Senior High School in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, hosts a variety of college-related support and completion events throughout the school year, with the goal of “meeting students where they are,” College and Career Specialist Sara Schreiner said. The school hosts a College Knowledge Month in October, which is packed full of events such as visits from college representatives and informational meetings about things like essay-writing and financial aid. Each November there is a large college fair.

With so much information to cover for so many college hopefuls, counselors encourage their colleagues to remember that students overcoming barriers that could otherwise prevent them from applying is a cause for celebration.

“Take photos and help them recognize that they are special, and make this process memorable for them,” advised Aubree Boivin, college and career counselor at Albuquerque School of Excellence in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Document their achievements visibly and publicly on social media and displays throughout the school.”

Thomas suggested decorating the application event space, setting up a photo booth, and providing treats: “Make it fun!” Her team even hosted its “I Applied” Day on Halloween.

Two Littleton High School seniors pose with balloons.
Littleton High School seniors in New Hampshire. Credit: ApplyNH (formerly I Am College Bound)

“Picture students submitting their first applications to college dressed as a clown, pirate, and tourist, while their school ‘cow-nselor’ walked around answering questions,” Thomas said. “And I can’t forget the candy!”

For additional advice from ACAC’s School of Excellence awardees on how to help more students apply to college, register to watch a recording of our recent webinar, where two winners shared their most effective strategies from last year’s application season. And don’t forget to celebrate your students’ achievements by participating in the #WhyApply social media campaign on Sept. 22.