On Oct. 28, 2016, President Barack Obama declared November to be National College Application Month. The official proclamation “encourages Americans to apply for a higher education, and … strive to ensure every student—no matter who they are or where they come from—has a chance at the opportunities they need to thrive.”
November Is Now About Action
November is now a month to encourage Americans to apply for a higher education, and a time for educators to strive to ensure every student has a chance at the opportunities they need to thrive. It’s a logical progression, too. Over the past few years, the current administration has put forward a number of initiatives to empower students to make more informed choices. Those resources help students and parents:
- Evaluate college choices: College Scorecard, early FAFSA and prior-prior year
- Understand what’s needed to complete one’s education: Reach Higher
- Reduce barriers to educational opportunity: Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge
- Find transparency: Final Rules on Borrower Defense and Cash Management
- Protect themselves from debt: Gainful Employment
With the most-recent proclamation, the administration is sending a message saying ‘now that you have all of the tools at your disposal, use them, and take the step to apply.’
Is It Enough?
The proclamation calls for renewed focus and awareness efforts to happen nation-wide at institutions; efforts that will hopefully result in more applications being submitted in November and December. But focusing on application volume alone isn’t enough, which is why the proclamation also points to schools focusing on ensuring that every student succeeds. Success looks different for every student, some will require financial support, others academic. Considering that up to 40% of low income students who are admitted to college never end up enrolling, there’s certainly work to be done on the financial aid side. The financial aid system is complex, confusing, and those two factors can undermine confidence for the most vulnerable in our society, said our CEO Gregg Scoresby in an earlier blog.
Encouraging Well-Informed Decisions
“I call upon public officials, educators, parents, students, and all Americans to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs designed to encourage students to make plans for and apply to college,” reads the official release from The White House.
“The continued attempts by all parties to ensure that students and their families have access to the appropriate information needed to make well-informed decisions about college is refreshing,” says Amy Glynn, Vice President of Financial Aid and Community at CampusLogic. “The opportunities granted to families as they are provided more time to make decisions about college is necessary as they utilize the tools to compare institutions. Students, especially first generation, need all of the support and education they can get during the college admission process. The new recognition of November as National College Application Month will help bring attention and resources to these students.”
Ideas For Celebrating At Your Institution
Financial Aid Offices are knee-deep sorting through early-FAFSA, PPY, and the daily rigors of financial aid administration—coming up with ideas to celebrate now may be difficult. Glynn offers some suggestions:
- Update your website to reflect the theme
- Email students who applied in the past but did not complete the process
- Hold an Application Fair in November
- Consider deferring or waiving application fees in November, like Montana is
- Update any presentations to high school in November to mention the theme
- Reach out to high schools in your area to discuss new collaborative events
- Host an open house focused on the November theme
- Develop a social media campaign, fostering discussion on student-facing feeds
Boosting applications and dedicating a month toward college applications is a great effort, and we’re all for it here at CampusLogic. Schools will be on the front lines of developing and implementing new initiatives to really drive success National College Application Month. “Join us in the Financial Aid Best Practices Group on LinkedIn to discuss best practices around this, and to leverage the Financial Aid community’s knowledge,” says Glynn.