On April 10, the College Board introduced BigFuture, its new free comprehensive college planning Web resource, at a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. The site was created with the Education Conservancy and in consultation with students and educators to help make the college planning process simpler and more accessible. At the “Big Future™: Narrowing the Gap Between College Aspiration and Enrollment” panel, education, government and not-for-profit thought leaders discussed ways to help students, especially those from low-income backgrounds or who are the first in their families to aspire to college, overcome obstacles to higher education.
“We know many Latino students are facing challenging barriers, from parents who lack the experience in the college going process to overwhelmed counselors, or simply, not understanding the opportunities out there to pursue a post-secondary education,” said Jim Montoya, former admissions dean of Stanford University and current vice president of Higher Education at the College Board. “This site gives them a powerful tool they manage on their time with information and guidance they may not be able to obtain from their schools or families.”
Access to expert guidance found on BigFuture can help boost enrollment and access to financial aid resources for Latino students. Already, the College Board’s Spanish site, www.collegeboard.org/enespanol, provides Latino parents a broad and deep hub of college guidance. According to the College Board’s College Completion Agenda, Latino Edition, 19.2 percent of Latinos between the ages of 25 and 34 had earned a two- or four-year degree, compared with 41 percent nationally. The study also suggests Latinos receive an average amount of financial aid totaling $7,900, less than African Americans, Asians or Caucasians.
“BigFuture is a major investment by the College Board to help improve the college planning process for students and families, and to provide more equal access to expert guidance,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. “Through our advocacy work to increase college completion rates in the United States, we have identified providing better college information and planning services to all students, with a special focus on low-income students, as one of 10 key recommendations for success. We’re excited about this collaboration with the Education Conservancy because it combines trusted guidance and reliable data with innovative and engaging technology.”
BigFuture.org is a new Web experience that leverages new technologies to engage students online in the way they want to be engaged. This new resource combines guidance, tools and information to make college planning easier to navigate and help students overcome barriers that make college seem out of reach. BigFuture features interactive tools and content, including real student video stories and personalized action plans.
“The success of the BigFuture project reflects the special value collaboration can deliver to improving education,” said Lloyd Thacker, director of the Education Conservancy. “At its best, college admission is an interactive, educational process. Students learn about college; colleges learn about students; successful matches are made; college education in America becomes a reality for all who aspire to it. This site represents a significant step forward in establishing an admission system that exemplifies the best that education has to offer.”
BigFuture replaces the College Board’s previous college planning website, which was a trusted resource and one of the most highly trafficked college planning websites available, used by more than six million students and parents each month. “This launch represents a new phase in the College Board’s service to students, building on more than 100 years of work aimed at expanding access to higher education,” Caperton said.