College Application Week is a national initiative designed to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. Virginia joined the American College Application Campaign in fall 2012 by offering the Commonwealth’s first College Application Week- November 22-26, 2012. The pilot event resulted in the submission of over 3,000 college applications from 16 Virginia high schools with an average free or reduced price lunch eligibility rate of 62%.
For 2013, participation in Virginia College Application Week (VCAW) has been expanded to 32 schools serving a student population where, on average, 65% are eligible for free or reduced price lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). During summer 2013, 50 high schools were invited to host VCAW. Invitees included the 16 pilot sites and 34 additional schools selected in rank order according to the Virginia Department of Education’s School Year 2012-2013 NSLP Free and Reduced Price Eligibility Report. Sixty-four percent (64%) of newly-invited schools agreed to participate - doubling the number of sites in the pilot year.
In preparation for VCAW, selected high schools designate a site coordinator who receives training and access to technical assistance and promotional and educational resources to facilitate the week’s activities. Prior to College Application Week, students are encouraged to prepare personal essays, build activity resumes and gather information necessary for completing an admission application. During the week, students are provided one-on-one assistance from school counselors, admissions officers and volunteers to complete online admission applications with the goal of submitting at least one application to a two or four-year institution.
By recognizing and minimizing the financial barriers present in the college application process, college admission becomes more attainable to first-generation and low-income students. In fact, of the more than 900 students surveyed on their experiences during 2012 Virginia College Application Week, 69% noted that the cost of applying to college either “strongly influenced” or "somewhat influenced" the number of schools to which they applied. Through coordination with SCHEV and the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV), many of Virginia’s private and public universities and colleges agree to waive their application fees during College Application Week for students with demonstrated financial need attending VCAW site schools. Over 450 students took advantage of application fee waivers during 2012 Virginia College Application Week.
SCHEV will continue to encourage the expansion of Virginia College Application Week to additional host schools each year in hopes of reaching more Virginia students interested in pursuing a postsecondary education. For more information or to express your interest in this state college access initiative, please contact Ms. Paula Fisher at PaulaFisher@schev.edu.
Links & Downloads:
- Governor Robert McDonnell 2013 Virginia College Application Week Proclamation
- Governor McDonnell Announces Virginia College Application Week Press Release
- Governor's Letter to Parents and Students Regarding 2013 Virginia College Application Week
- 2013 VCAW High School Site List
- 2013 VCAW Site Coordinator Contact List
- 2012 VCAW Freedom High School Video
- Virginia College Application Week Student Website
- 2013 VCAW Video (QuickTime Movie Format)