“The past nine months have not just exposed, but exacerbated the endemic barriers that prevent so many students from pursuing higher education,” said Jenny Rickard, CEO of Common App. “This is a critical step in our ongoing efforts to break down those barriers — and build a new college admissions process with equity at its core.”

A growing body of evidence indicates that students from low-income households, or those who are the first in their families to go to college, have been disproportionately affected by the fallout from the pandemic. Fewer low-income students applied for federal financial aid this year, and according to recent Common App data, applications among low-income and first-generation students have dropped by 10 percent compared with fall 2019, which is about 5x the rate of decline compared to non-first-generation applicants. 

“We believe in the potential of our nation’s students. Unfortunately, many of the students who were already most likely to have challenges navigating the path to college before the pandemic are the ones who have borne the brunt of its impact,” said Nicole Hurd, Founder and CEO of College Advising Corps. “We need to challenge systems that continue to perpetuate inequity and systemic racism — and ensure that all students have access to the support and guidance they need to attend, and succeed in, college.”

This new initiative, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Capital One Foundation, UBS, and ECMC Foundation, is designed to address that challenge by providing students and families with free access to a conversational AI chatbot rooted in the same technology that has had transformative effects on reducing summer melt at institutions like Georgia State University. First launched as a pilot this summer, Common App and College Advising Corps’ chatbot sent more than 23 million messages to 173,000 college applicants, providing real-time guidance and reminders throughout the admissions process, as well as access to one-on-one coaching through the College Advising Corps. More than 65% of student participants engaged with the chatbot during the pilot phase.

“We know that emerging technologies like AI, when applied with a commitment to empathetic and transparent communication, can play a powerful role in fostering college-going aspiration and increasing enrollment,” said Drew Magliozzi, Co-Founder and CEO of AdmitHub, whose white paper on empathetic communication was released earlier this month. “By bringing together AI with the wisdom of experienced coaches, we’re able to provide support to hundreds of thousands of students at once, without sacrificing the one-on-one mentorship that is proven to boost college access and success.”

During the 2019-2020 school year, more than 1.1 million prospective students used the Common App to submit over 5.5 million college applications. Since 2019, Common App has also partnered with Reach Higher, a college access initiative started by former First Lady Michelle Obama, to fuel equity and access within and beyond the college admissions process.

About Common App
Common App is a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. Each year, more than one million students, one-third of whom are first-generation, apply to college through the Common App’s online application. In January 2019, the Common App united with Reach Higher, the college access and success campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House.

By joining forces, Common App and Reach Higher accelerated progress toward our joint goal of supporting all students, especially low-income and first-generation students, in achieving their higher education dreams. Our access and equity work for students include a college advising texting campaign with AdmitHub and College Advising Corps, scholarships and community college initiatives, Dear Class of 2020 Fund, and more. Founded in 1975, Common App serves over 900 member colleges and universities worldwide.

To learn more, visit commonapp.org, and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.

About College Advising Corps
College Advising Corps, a national service organization, knows postsecondary education is the surest path to economic mobility. College Advising Corps is dedicated to increasing the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students enrolling in postsecondary education. The organization partners with universities across the nation to build a network of recent college graduates who serve as “near-peer” advisers in underserved high schools across the country. Over the past decade, College Advising Corps has helped propel more than 500,000 students to higher education. With the support and collaboration of its many partners and contributors, College Advising Corps will enroll one million students in postsecondary education by 2025.

About AdmitHub
AdmitHub brings behavioral intelligence and empathetic communication to bear on student engagement and success. Established in 2014, AdmitHub pioneered the application of conversational AI in higher ed and has reached over 2 million students through its student engagement platform. In partnership with colleges and universities, nonprofits, and community organizations around the country, AdmitHub’s sophisticated technology and personalized support guide students on the path to and through college. Learn more and request a demo at AdmitHub.com.

SOURCE Common App

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