The College Board’s Access to Opportunity™ (A2O™) efforts are designed to identify and break down barriers that prevent students — particularly low-income students, first-generation college students, rural students, and students of color — from applying to and enrolling in colleges that are their best academic, social, and financial fit. Our mission is to help all students recognize and make the most of the opportunities they’ve earned.
Virtual Advising Pilot Programs: The Access to Opportunity program is partnering with a number of college advising organizations to offer expert support and guidance to students as they begin their journey to college. Students may be contacted to take part in one of the following programs:
- College Advising Corps virtual advising pilot program: In the spring of 2017, the College Board invited select juniors to participate in a virtual advising program administered by the College Advising Corps. A nationally-recognized advising organization, the College Advising Corps trains recent college graduates to serve as virtual advisers who will be available by phone, email, chat, and text messaging to answer questions from current high school students about college academics, campus life, and more. Messaging to pilot participants stresses that their virtual advisers are a supplemental resource and that they should continue to rely on in-school counselors as their primary source of college and career advice. Participating students are encouraged to share information about the program and their virtual adviser’s contact information with their school counselor.
The advisers in this program are trained to support students throughout the college application process and can help them:
- Create an application plan
- Provide support on completing FAFSA and scholarship applications
- Review applications and essays
- Manage application and paperwork deadlines
CollegePoint pilot program: Select students in the class of 2017 have been invited to sign up for free virtual college advising through a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies' CollegePoint initiative. Eligible students will receive one-on-one support from an expert adviser via text message, phone, email, or video chat.
Both of these programs are free to students and their families due to the generous support of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Students are under no obligation to sign up for either of these pilots and have the right to decline any interaction with the College Board or its partners.
- Realize Your College Potential campaign for the Class of 2017: Select students in the class of 2017 will receive personalized packets in the mail with guidance and resources to help them apply to college. These packages include:
- College Search Kickoff Mailing: Beginning in September 2016, select students in the class of 2017 will receive information designed to help them begin exploring colleges, including BigFuture resources, a checklist of application-related activities, and a personalized starter list of colleges. The personalized list of schools is based on where other students from their area, who share their strong PSAT/NMSQT® performance, attended college, and successfully graduated. The list is intended to provide examples that may help students in the early stages of college exploration. Select students will receive two or eight additional college application fee waivers in their mailing. Students who previously used an SAT fee waiver may also receive two or eight additional free flexible SAT score reports; the additional free flexible score reports will be available to students online through their College Board account. Additional college application fee waivers and free flexible score reports are being made available to select eligible students as part of ongoing research to evaluate the appropriateness of existing policies and identify recommendations for future improvements. Download a sample of the brochure with information on evaluating the price of colleges and additional samples of starter college lists. Some students will receive a version of the brochure with emphasis on evaluating the price of colleges, while others will receive a version with emphasis on evaluating academic fit.
- Financial Aid Kickoff Mailing: Beginning in November 2016, select students who received our September college-planning mailing will receive a follow-up packet with valuable information about how to apply for financial aid and a checklist to help them complete the FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE applications. Also included is advice on how to find and apply for scholarships using BigFuture’s Scholarship Search tool. A list of free resources from the U.S. Department of Education and the College Board will also be in the packet. Download a sample of the brochure here.
- Why Not Us?: Produced in partnership with Roadtrip Nation, Why Not Us? is a film about the ways in which first-generation college students can navigate barriers. CBWhyNotUs.org supplies the film— which aired across the country on PBS — to schools and community-based organizations. The site includes a link to the full version of the documentary, a companion discussion guide with links to college planning resources, a five-minute promotional trailer, and information on the students in the film.
- SMS/Text Messaging Pilot: The College Board continues to explore SMS/texting as a channel to give students information about the college planning process, such as reminders about key deadlines and applying for financial aid. We invited select students to take part in texting programs. These students can let us see how well the programs work before we make them widely available.
- Classes of 2017 and 2018: Students in the classes of 2017 and 2018 who provided their consent and agreed to be contacted via text message have been receiving reminders from the College Board around key deadlines in the college application lifecycle. The program is slated to continue through the students’ respective graduation dates. Click here to see upcoming monthly topics through the end of 2017 for the classes of 2017 and 2018. If you would like to get the messages your students get, just text COUNSELOR to 51612*.
- Virtual Advising: The College Board continues to evaluate the role of virtual advising in supporting students, and helping relieve the burden of high student-to-counselor ratios on students and counselors. Students who receive the Realize Your College Potential mailings and have questions about their college applications are encouraged to speak with their school counselors, but also have access to some other on-demand support. This includes:
- Ask Us: Students may text or call the College Board for assistance with their questions. Questions submitted via text will be monitored and answered by trained College Advising Corps advisers. Phone calls will be supported by College Board staff in addition to trained College Advising Corps advisers.
- Virtual Advising via Text Message and Phone: Select students who receive the Realize Your College Potential mailings will also be invited to participate in a virtual advising pilot program with uAspire and the College Advising Corps via phone and text messaging. Students always have the option to decline any interaction with the College Board or our partners.
- CollegePoint Program: Select students from the class of 2017 will be invited to sign up for free virtual college advising in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies' CollegePoint initiative. Eligible students will receive one-on-one support from an expert adviser via text message, phone, email, or video chat. Students are under no obligation to sign-up for this free service.
- College Application Fee Waivers: Every income-eligible senior who takes the SAT® or SAT Subject Tests™ using a fee waiver will receive four college application fee waivers from the College Board.
- Realize Your College Potential campaign for the Class of 2016: Select students in the class of 2016 received personalized packets in the mail with guidance and resources to help them apply to college. These packets included:
- College Search Kickoff Mailing: In May 2015, select students in the class of 2016 received information designed to help them begin exploring colleges, including BigFuture resources, a checklist of application-related activities, and a personalized starter list of colleges.
- College Application Kickoff Mailing: In September 2015, select students in the class of 2016 received personalized packets in the mail with guidance and resources to help them apply to college. The packets included information on applying to college, finalizing college lists, finding scholarships, and learning about financial aid options. Some students also received four Realize Your College Potential college application fee waivers that are accepted at more than 100 colleges and universities. Download a sample of the brochure and college application timeline.
- Financial Aid Kickoff Mailing: In January 2016, select students in the class of 2016 received personalized packets in the mail with guidance and resources about financial aid, along with student and parent checklists to help them complete their FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® applications. Some students were also invited to participate in a one-time, 30-minute phone call with uAspire, a national leader in college affordability advising. Students were able to use this opportunity to ask questions about federal and state financial aid application requirements. Download a sample of the brochure.
Tools for Schools and Districts
All students should have access to personalized college guidance. School counselors are the main source of this guidance and play a critical role in the college admission process. The College Board’s Access to Opportunity efforts are not intended to replace the important work that counselors do, but rather to supplement their efforts.
Whether or not students have been selected to participate in one of our campaigns, we encourage school and district staffs to utilize our webinars and resources as they help students successfully navigate the college planning process.
For questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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