News: College Access & Success

5 Helpful Back-to-School Resources for NCAN Members

Thursday, August 29, 2019  
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The start of a new school year is a busy time for NCAN members, so here's a list of back-to-school resources recommended by NCAN staff that we hope will make your lives a little easier.

  1. A guide to the best digital tools for students. How will you use technology with students this year to be as efficient and effective as possible? This 2018 report from NCAN member Get Schooled and the USC Pullias Center for Higher Education reviews dozens of technology tools to see that are readily available and appropriate, especially for high school students from low-income backgrounds, as they navigate college preparation, college and financial aid applications, and career choice. The report groups tools into four categories (general overview, application, exploration, coaching/mentoring, and financial aid/scholarships) and scores them on four criteria (cost, accessibility, relevance, and credibility). –Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations

  2. Resources to support your FAFSA completion efforts. Form Your Future® is a national campaign to increase FAFSA completion by high school seniors, specifically students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. The campaign’s (free) resources include a FAFSA completion rate tracker (which can be broken down by high school, school district, and state); short stories about strategies for increasing FAFSA completion; and social media messages for student outreach. –Kelly Mae Ross, Communications Manager

  3. The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard is an important consumer information tool for students considering postsecondary pathways. In May, the Scorecard received an upgrade when ED added a number of new components, like outcomes for certificate programs, completion rate data for transfer and part-time students, and student loan data at the program level. The Scorecard previously contained directory, academic, financial aid, and completion data for two- and four-year institutions, but now an additional 2,100 non-degree granting institutions also appear. This is important because it means the Scorecard now offers consumers information on a broader range of postsecondary pathways. –Kim Cook, Executive Director

  4. A toolkit for students, advisers, and counselors on navigating the college search and application process. A great resource funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), Find the Fit is a toolkit with student-, counselor-, and parent-facing resources that “aims to help students successfully navigate the college search and application process, and enroll in quality colleges that fit their needs and preferences.” Back-to-school time means students’ minds turn toward homework and their studies, but it’s also time for them to consider their postsecondary pathways. Tools for students will help them explore factors of college fit, follow a plan, think about cost, expand their college options, and apply to multiple schools. Even better, the National Center for Education Evaluation conducted a study and found that using these resources “increased the number and selectivity of colleges to which students applied” among a sample of Upward Bound students. –Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation

  5. Standardized test prep resources. Through Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy, students can receive a personalized SAT study guide based on a diagnostic test or their SAT or PSAT/NMSQT® scores. If your students are using Khan Academy, be sure to let them know about the College Board Opportunity Scholarships, some of which reward students for practicing for the SAT. There are also free resources available to help students study for the ACT. You can access them here. –MorraLee Keller, Director of Technical Assistance