When Senior Vice President, BigFuture Tarlin Ray, joined College Board’s College and Career Access program a little over a year ago, it’s hard to imagine he knew just how important his role would be in the lives of millions of students across the world. The covid-19 pandemic created more uncertainty around the college admissions process than ever before. Completion rates of last year’s FAFSA dropped by 5% compared to prior year, and colleges saw their steepest student enrollment drop in a decade.
Seeing these impacts on students unfold, the need for accurate and timely information to support students on their path to college became abundantly clear. Last week, during his session at College Board’s Virtual National Forum, The Future for BigFuture, Tarlin shared “Students need a credible guide to navigate today’s challenges, which is why we’re taking action with a new direction for Big Future.” College Board launched BigFuture as a college planning destination for students and families over 10 years ago. And while new tools and resources have since been introduced, students continued to share that the college planning process remained daunting, and that more information did not necessarily mean clearer direction, especially now. With the need for an overhaul further exacerbated by the pandemic, Tarlin took the opportunity to share some exciting changes to BigFuture, starting in the coming months:
1. Refining Scholarship Search
College Board will continue improving the functionality of our enhanced scholarship search tool, launched in fall 2020. This tool provides students with thousands of scholarships and aid opportunities based on their background. The tool also highlights the importance of completing the FAFSA.
2. Enhanced College Search
Based on user feedback, this new search experience is designed with a mobile first approach. The new technology will allow us to iterate and respond to user need more quickly, including counselors. By default, College Search will sort by a college’s percentage of students who graduated in 6 years, as reported directly by the schools. Additional filters will be available to further personalize student experience.
3. BigFuture Scholarships
- Actions taken through BigFuture automatically enter students into scholarship drawings.
- Monthly $500 and $40,000 scholarships drawings.
- Consistent with College Board Opportunity Scholarships, half of all BigFuture scholarships will continue to be reserved for students whose families earn $60K dollars and below.
Formerly known as College Board Opportunity Scholarships, students will continue to be rewarded for taking the steps to apply to college with BigFuture Scholarships. Some exciting highlights:
“We want to do everything possible to help guide students”, said Ray. With the enhancements for students and educators on the horizon, they can be sure they’ll have access to a quality college and career planning tool, and the opportunity to tailor their experience in the months to come.