RESULTS 1,769 1,929. First. Generation 47% First. Application 70%

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1 2015 FINAL REPORT

2 OVERVIEW Florida College Application Week is part of the American College Application Campaign (ACAC), a national initiative that aims to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. It does this by helping high school seniors navigate the complex college admissions process and ensuring that they apply to at least one postsecondary institution (2-year or 4-year college, certificate program, or vocational school). Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN) began serving as the statewide coordinator for the school year. During College Application Week, we asked schools to dedicate time and space during the normal school day to a college application event. At these events, students had the opportunity to fill out their college applications with the support of trained volunteers from the school and community. Events were open to all graduating seniors, with a special focus on engaging first-generation students, students from low-income families, and students who may otherwise not apply to college. While the application event focused on graduating seniors, schools were encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to create a college-going culture for all students. Steering Committee Florida CAN invited a steering committee to help guide the program in its pilot year. The steering committee included representatives from the Highlands International Baccalaureate and Advanced Academics Partnership (HIBAAP), Florida College System (FCS), Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA), Florida Department of Education Office of Student of Financial Assistance (OFSA), Florida Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (FACRAO), the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF), and Gear Up. The steering committee met twice leading up to the event and discussed issues by between meetings. Recruitment Florida CAN recruited schools to participate through several channels, largely relying on existing relationships with schools and school districts, as well as the steering committee. Although Florida CAN set a goal of schools for the pilot year, 43 schools and organizations registered to participate. Many of these schools were located in Miami-Dade and Broward, where Florida CAN was invited to train all of the districts college advisors. Both of these districts employ college advisors at high schools in addition to school counselors. Resources and Trainings Florida CAN adapted and developed a number of materials based on the models provided by the American College Application Campaign and Michigan College Access Network. These materials included the Site Coordinator Planning Guide with accompanying templates, Apply Yourself! Student Guide, promotional posters and I Applied! stickers given to participating students.

3 Along with Joe Watts of the American College Application Campaign, Florida CAN conducted three in-person trainings in Central Florida, Miami-Dade, and Broward, and one virtual/webinar training, which was made available on YouTube after the live webinar was held. In addition, Florida CAN s Special Projects Coordinator offered one-on-one technical support to site coordinators. Social Media Campaign With the encouragement of Florida CAN, sites participated in a very effective social media campaign. Florida CAN provided a number of social media tips and suggested posts as part of the Site Coordinator planning guide, and many site coordinators took advantage of these or created their own posts. Certain hashtags (#IApplied, #CollegeAppWeek, and #ApplyYourselfFL) were promoted in the planning guide and on the promotional materials, in order to promote conversation on social media. Florida CAN used its own social media accounts to recognize schools efforts and celebrate their successes. Florida College Application Weekrelated posts were collected and featured in a Storify reel.

4 RESULTS Students Served Of the 43 schools that registered, Florida CAN received program data from 26 schools. Of these, 22 hosted some sort of application drive, including on-site admissions events to specific colleges and evening events. Most of the schools that did not host application drives held informational events and activities to build a college going culture. Out of the schools that hosted application events, 16 reported participation numbers. At these 16 schools, 1,769 students worked on filling out a total of 1,929 applications. At sites that reported more detailed data, the percentage of participating students who had not yet applied to college ranged from 47% to 90%. The percentage of participating students who will be first generation college students ranged from 38% to 77%. Overall, 70% of participating students worked on their first application at a Florida College Application Week event, and 47% of participants will be first-generation college students. However, it is important to note that less than half of schools that hosted an application event reported this level of data, so true numbers for the state may differ. 1,769 1,929 First Generation 47% First Application 70% Events/Activities While Florida CAN recommended that schools follow the ACAC model for their application events, in practice there was great variety in the application events. Some schools worked with colleges to host an on-site admissions event or held an application drive for a specific school. At least four sites hosted events outside of the school day, including two community organizations. Although these events did not strictly follow the ACAC model, they still took advantage of the resources provided by Florida CAN to organize their events.

5 Many of the sites that hosted an application event also incorporated other activities and events into their College Application Weeks. A number of sites hosted college information sessions and college visits or worked around existing college fairs in the community. Activities aimed at buiding a college-going culture were also popular. The most common activities were college t-shirt days and posting Ask me about it posters, which encouraged students to ask teachers about their college experience. Other activities included door decorating contests and games such as college BINGO (included in the toolkit) and a college scavenger hunt. Some schools also held celebrations that brought excitement to the process, such as hosting a pizza party for all the seniors that applied. College Sweatshirt Day was a favorite -- the kids enjoyed showing off the schools they are hoping to attend (and I definitely heard some students discussing the merits of some colleges over others). Training and Resources 41% of evaluation respondents reported not attending either the in-person or virtual training. The fact that so many respondents didn t attend either training may have skewed the results somewhat, but there were no clear patterns that emerged differentiating those who attended a training from those that did not. Many of the sites that did not participate in training were located in one of the two larger counties that had adopted College Application Week as a district-wide activity. It is possible that they missed the in-person training, but heard about the initiative later from their supervisor or other advisors and decided to participate. The other schools and organizations that did not attend a training signed up to participate after the live trainings had occurred and may not have received or read the with the information about the virtual training. You did a great job of providing resources to make the initiative successful! We were able to easily customize the resources to fit our needs! Thank you for all that you did!!! Utilization of the different resources varied greatly by school and by resource. The most popular resources among site coordinators, based on the highest helpful and very helpful ratings, were the Site Coordinator Guide, the Apply Yourself! Student Guide, and the posters and stickers. These three resources were also the most used resources. While it wasn t mentioned in the comments, it is possible that one reason these resources were more popular is because copies were provided directly to site coordinators that attended an in-person training. None of the resources were rated as not helpful, but there were a number of resources that were not widely used, which could be seen either as indicating that they were not helpful or that site coordinators needed to be made aware of all the resources available to them. The least-used resources were the materials made available through a Dropbox link and the technical assistance from the FCAN staff.

6 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% In-Person Training Online Training Trainings & Resources Site Coordinator Planning Guide Apply Yourself! Student Guide Templates and Materials in the Dropbox Posters and Stickers Support from FCAN Staff Didn t Use Not Helpful Somewhat Helpful Very Helpful Support Many of the site coordinators reported receiving support from their schools and communities for this initiative, especially from teachers and administrators at the school and from local colleges. In particular, several site coordinators successfully partnered with English teachers. Other partners included the PTSA, guidance departments, community volunteers, and students. Time & Money Spent There was significant variation in how much time site coordinators spent planning their events, as well as inconsistencies in how time spent was reported (hours, weeks, etc.). For schools that reported in terms of hours, the amount of time spent ranged from 2 to 70 hours. The schools that spent the least time appeared to either be smaller sites, or sites which brought in a college to do on-site applications. Larger schools that required more logistical planning and schools that hosted more complex events (such as a major college fair) in addition to the application event appeared to spend the most time on the effort. The average amount spent by schools came to a little over $100 dollars, but just over half of schools spent nothing at all on their events. Successes 100% respondents said that they would recommend this initiative to other schools. 91% of schools reported that they would participate in College Application Week again, with the remaining schools saying that they were not sure yet. Many schools shared impressive success stories from their first year participating in College Application Week. These stories are included in Appendix A.

7 Barriers A major issue for schools was computer lab availability, with testing dates and other computer lab needs taking priority over College Application Week. This was raised as a concern both in the training sessions and in the evaluation. The other barrier that was highlighted in evaluation responses was a lack of time and support for school counselors and college advisors to focus on college access activities. One college advisor noted that she is tasked with a number of duties not related to college advising. Similarly, a school counselor brought up the need for additional school counselors and emphasized that more support from the state level is needed: Any help/support the State can provide program reps to support more visits and/or more materials for the students would be appreciated. Also, the work of helping students navigate the college application process needs to be a State budget priority. While these factors are largely out of Florida CAN s direct control, they are important to keep in mind as we move forward with the initiative.

8 AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT Based on the results of Florida College Application Week s pilot year, Florida CAN has internally identified the following areas of improvement for future years. Additionally, a number of useful recommendations were made by the site coordinators. These suggestions are included in Appendix B. Training: Revise the training to more clearly emphasize the expectations for the event, simple strategies for success, and data reporting requirements. Ensure that all coordinators who do not attend an in-person training are aware of the online training, and encourage them to view the training. Communication: More consistent communication with site coordinators would possibly encourage continued engagement throughout the program, from registration to data reporting. An attempt to use a ListServe as an engagement tool was not successful. However, the project was successful in engaging with site coordinators active on social media platforms. Steering Committee Engagement: By engaging the steering committee through more regular meetings throughout the planning and implementation process, Florida CAN may benefit from their expertise beyond just the recruitment phase. Data Collection: Consider using an online student survey to streamline the data collection process and improve reporting, balancing the need to ensure FERPA compliance and the desire for schools to be able to collect student-level data. Also, tying event participation and data collection to microgrants to school sites could provide a stronger incentive for reporting.

9 APPENDIX A: SUCCESS STORIES The following success stories were provided by College Application Week site coordinators: Although students are still submitting applications, we are also beginning to see the results of their efforts. We have already had students coming into our College Resource Room to report that they have received acceptance letters from the universities where they applied!!! This project was so much fun! We do this work every year, but to capture it all with the sense that someone outside of our school was paying attention made it more exciting than normal. We were able to put 255 of our 282 seniors onto a computer to at least start a college application during College Application Week. We have increased student knowledge about the application process and provided the seniors with resources needed to complete college applications. I had one student... come to me after College Application Week and thank me, with tears in her eyes, for doing the College Application Week. She said that if I hadn't done this initiative and helped her with the applications, she would not have applied to any colleges because the process was too intimidating to her. Since then, she has been accepted to SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design, and is waiting to hear from several other schools. The students liked having a College Spirit Week, as it imbued ALL students with the sense that a postsecondary plan is necessary. The successes from the week were watching students fully engaged in the application process. They were excited and nervous, but they came and they did it. Especially my first generation students. Those were the main students who came (even though I didn't target them specifically). It was a wake up call for me at how much they don't know. To me, that realization made this a success. I had a student apply on the last day and get an acceptance decision the following Monday. That just made my day! The major successes were that we raised a consciousness much earlier this year about the importance of application to be competitive for financial aid. Students realized that it actually isn't as difficult as they imagined to apply to a college of their choice, and it has been extremely encouraging to see their faces of excitement as some have already received their letters of acceptance to their college/university. This has created an excellent momentum for me as their college access advisor to promote opportunities for students to now be applying for scholarships that can help fund their future. First and foremost, awareness regarding completion of college applications to meet priority deadlines definitely increased. Some students who did not officially complete an application most certainly began one, understood what they would need to do to complete this process, and became less afraid to pursue this, as they realized they had a lot of support within the school.

10 APPENDIX B: COORDINATOR SUGGESTIONS Site coordinators provided the following tips for success. Many of these suggestions will be incorporated into future site coordinator materials. Convince universities and colleges to participate and provide awards to students who apply (on-site admissions, t-shirts, sporting event admission tickets, etc.). Provide signs students can hold for pictures with whatever is trending in social media at this time next year. For example, we would have loved a sign with #Imgoing, #Bettermakeroom, or #BelieveIt for kids to hold when they had their pictures taken for our webpages. Of course, we thought of this after the event, but made notes for next year. :) Leveraging resources with the Florida State University System and the Florida College System to provide college application waivers to students. An approach could be to get universities to waive their application fees during the time that College Application Week is happening or having participating schools somehow register with the Florida SUS and FCS so that students can enter a code or some other form of identification so that those students fees can be waived. (ACAC advises against this strategy to instead focus on utilizing fee waivers based on student income.) Increase the volunteer training opportunities. Providing a count down for programs to use, especially engaging their students in social media leading up to the event might produce an extra buzz around this theme for October. (For example, 5 days before the event, some interesting fact relative to college admissions or enrollment and that also connects with the number '5' is shared with students via social media to get them excited about the upcoming event.) Next year, it might be worthy to look at how we can combine this initiative of applying to college with applying for the FAFSA (since we will see the new changes regarding when students can begin filling it out). Provide snapshots of best successes from this year to help spark our programming imaginations for next year. I would be especially interested to see if there were any local businesses supporting this initiative, how they contributed, and how students were impacted by such larger, local involvement. I would just like to have my role as the college adviser for 685+ seniors (not to mention EVERY student in the building who expresses ANY interest in post-secondary education) to be respected and understood for the intense time and effort required. The fact that I am also tasked with classroom duties, am pulled for long and extensive times for testing administration obviously impacts my abilities to serve as a truly dedicated college adviser.

11 Sharing other ideas that I can incorporate that were successful at other schools. One of the problems that we encountered in this process is that Valencia College's application for admission to the Fall 2016 term was not yet open (at the time of our workshop, the earliest term that students could have been applying for admission was the Summer 2016 term). There is not anything FCAN can do about this, but it is something to have in mind that was an obstacle for our students who attended that have Valencia College as their #1 option. I had mentioned this via an ...i would LOVE some I GOT ACCEPTED stickers to share with those students who excitedly tell me of their acceptances. The student worksheets need to include parent residency information, including driver s license number and voter registration number. There are some things that we learned this year that might be helpful to add or update for next year's guide, especially regarding some of the fee waiver policies.

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