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College Board

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Access to Opportunity

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, 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.

Current Campaigns

  • Class of 2016 Realize Your College Potential: Select students in the Class of 2016 will receive personalized packets in the mail with guidance and resources to help them apply to college.  
    • College Search Kickoff Mailing: Beginning in May 2015, select students in the Class of 2016 received resources to kick off their college exploration, including BigFuture resources, a summer checklist of activities, and a starter list of colleges. Students received a personalized list of schools based on where other students from their area, who share their strong PSAT/NMSQT® performance, attended college, and successfully graduated. The list of colleges was intended to provide examples that may help students in the early stages of college exploration. Future outreach in the summer and fall will help these students to refine their college list and apply to a balanced group of schools that will ultimately improve their chances of career success. Download a sample of the brochure and additional samples of college starter lists.
    • College Application Kickoff Mailing: Beginning 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 include information on applying to college, finalizing their college lists, finding scholarships, and learning about financial aid options. Some students will also receive four Realize Your College Potential college application fee waivers that will be accepted at more than 100 colleges and universities that have agreed to waive their fees. Download a sample of the brochure and college application timeline.
  • Why Not Us?: In partnership with Roadtrip Nation, “Why Not Us?” is a film about how first-generation college students can navigate barriers. In addition to airing across the country on PBS, provides for the film’s use by schools and community-based organizations in programming, including 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.
  • SMS/Text Messaging Pilot: The College Board is exploring SMS/texting as a channel to provide information to students about the college planning process, including reminders about key deadlines and applying for financial aid. Select students have been invited to participate in the available texting programs as they are being evaluated for their effectiveness, before they become widely available
    • Class of 2016:
      • Partnership with Harvard University and uAspire: Some students in the Class of 2016 were invited to participate in the text messaging pilot at the time they took the PSAT/NMSQT® in October 2014. This pilot is part of a larger national research study being conducted by the College Board. Students began receiving regular text messages from the College Board in spring 2015 about important college planning activities. Additionally, some students have the opportunity to interact with an advisor from uAspire for help with college applications, financial aid, and enrolling in college.
      • Additional students in the class of 2016 and their parents or guardians will be invited to sign up for texting beginning in November 2015. Students and their parents or guardians will be supported through August 2016. Information on major college and financial aid planning milestones will be provided on a regular basis to students and their families. The focus is to help students and their families stay on track of college and financial aid applications.
    • Classes of 2017 and 2018Some students in the Classes of 2017 and 2018 were invited to participate in the text messaging pilot at the time they took the PSAT/NMSQT in October 2014. These students began receiving text messages in spring 2015, and will receive regular guidance on key college planning tasks to help them with their path to college.
  • CollegePoint Program: Select students from the Class of 2016 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 a trained, expert advisor via text message, phone, email, or video chat. For more information, visit
  • College Application Fee Waivers: Beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, 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. 

Past Campaigns

  • Class of 2015 Realize Your College Potential: Customized packets of college planning information, including college application fee waivers accepted by more than 100 selective colleges. 
  • Class of 2015 Apply to 4 or More: Select students received packets that included college application guidance and tools to help them apply to four or more colleges. Customized packets contained college application fee waivers, information on SAT fee waivers, and/or college planning resources.

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 staff to use our webinars and resources to help students successfully navigate the college planning process.

For questions, contact us at

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Applying to two colleges instead of one makes it 40% more likely that students will enroll in a four-year college. When students apply to more than two, their chances of enrolling will be even better. Encourage your students to apply to at least four or more colleges – one safety, two good fits, and one reach.

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