Enrollment leaders tell students #WhyApply to college

Applying to college can be a complex process. This is especially true for low-income and first-gen students, who often don't have family members to guide them through the process. That's why the American Council on Education (ACE) launched the American College Application Campaign (ACAC), writes Brennan Barnard, the director of college counseling and outreach at The Derryfield School.

Writing for Forbes, Barnard explains that ACAC's primary goal is to encourage students who feel college is out of reach to submit at least one application.

"ACAC is unique in that we focus on breaking down and celebrating the college application process," says Melissa Caperton, ACAC's director. "Many students find the application process intimidating and scary, which can result in them applying much later in their senior year, thus having some missed opportunities, or not applying at all. We remind students there are caring adults to help them tackle this step and celebrate their accomplishment."

ACAC began in 2005 as a "College Application Day" at one North Carolina high school, and has transformed into a nationwide event that has served more than two million students. ACE reports that last fall, the program assisted more than 500,000 seniors submit roughly 835,000 college applications. "ACAC events have become more than a senior-year event at participating schools," says Caperton. "This is a school-wide, community-wide, statewide, and national movement."

Also see: How email and text messages can nudge students to complete their applications

As part of the movement, ACAC is launching a social media campaign on September 21 to tell students #WhyApply to college. In preparation for the event, Barnard spoke with several college enrollment leaders to get their take on the "transformative power of education." Here's what they had to say:

Eric Nichols, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission at Saint Anselm College writes: "As a first-generation student, I know firsthand that applying to college can be a daunting task. So why should you do it? Because it will open doors you never knew existed."

"Applying to college is a true game-changer for a student’s future and going to college turns possibility into probability in regards to a better life," adds Charles Lloyd, president of White Mountains Community College. "The outcomes for completing a college degree clearly demonstrate college is a worthwhile investment given the lifelong earning potential and a significant increase in social mobility. Put simply, a college degree significantly increases the trajectory of one’s quality of life."

And Sue Willard, associate director of admissions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges says that "students should apply because it is a time for them to be surrounded by different people, ideas, and opportunities that help them discover who they want to be, what they want to do, and the impact they would like to have" (Barnard, Forbes, 9/14).  

Related: How "swag" drives application completion

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