With COVID-19 adversely affecting millions of students’ ability to receive in-person support during the college application process, Florida College Access Network is highlighting best practices for hosting virtual Apply Yourself Florida events. Apply Yourself Florida gives students the opportunity to complete their college applications during normal school hours with the help of trained volunteers.

The following is adapted from Handshake’s How to Host a Virtual Event.

Determine the type of event you want to host

Q&A/Panel Discussion—do you want your students to connect with admission counselors directly to have their questions answered? Consider reaching out to area college and university admission offices to have a representative attend your event.

Application Completion Drive—do you want to take the traditional in-person college application completion event virtually? Look into platforms to host your event where you are able to see students’ faces and possibly share screens (in case they have a question they can’t explain and would prefer to show you the issue).

(Consider an “on-site” admissions event! Some state colleges offer to review student applications, provide feedback, and/or admit students on the spot. Students can sign up for time slots to meet virtually with college admission representatives using the virtual platform of your choosing.)

How-to training—do you want to inform your students of the steps to complete their college applications? Consider who can provide the most insight to your students (e.g. area college and university admission officers). Reach out to have them present the college admission process to your students.

Determine what platform to use to host your event

Platform possibilities include Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Whereby (for one-on-one interactions), UberConference, ezTalks, GlobalMeet Collaboration.

The free/basic plans of many of these platforms give you access to features such as screen sharing, video conferencing, and chat/instant messaging.

Plan how you will promote your virtual college application completion event to your students

What communication channels are your school and district using to reach students and families? What social media platforms are these students on?

    1. Social media—use social media to reach students and families on the platforms they prefer with targeted messages. Use platforms, such as Instagram or Snapchat, to inform students how they can participate in the event. If you have more parents engaged on Facebook, tailor your message to inform parents about support available to students.
    2. Remind—this text messaging platform allows for mass communication of aligned messages to be sent in a quick and simple way to engage students and families. You can quickly get them any information and updates about your event.
    3. Robocalls—if your district communications department has the ability, you can record a voicemail message with the details of your event to be sent out to parents on a designated day and/or time.
    4. Newsletter—these are usually distributed to school mailing lists. This can be a great way to engage parents and families with more detailed information. (Tip: partner with your school’s PTA to also disperse the message to parents not on any school communication channels.)
    5. Newspaper/radio station—although your event is happening virtually, this is a great way to gain community support and recruit volunteers for your college application completion event or future events. Inform the community that all of your College Ready Florida activities will be virtual, and they can contact you (or the site coordinator or school administration) if they have opportunities for students to virtually explore careers or perform volunteer activities or internships. You can also put out a call for anyone who is able to assist with FAFSA completion once the application opens.

    (Plan It Florida activity: Reach out to businesses in your community and ask them to record videos for “A Day in the Life of {Career}” as a way for students to virtually explore careers. You can provide them with points to highlight about their career and workspace i.e. offices, factories, etc.)

    Leverage community partners 

    You may have some students who are hard to reach through your traditional communications channels.  Leverage your partner organizations who already have relationships with students and their families to provide support.  In most communities, Take Stock in Children, Big Brothers Big Sisters, faith-based organizations and others can provide direction and support as students go through the college-going process.

    To learn more about Apply Yourself Florida and how your school or organization can participate, visit our Florida initiatives page for access to our toolkit, resources, email list and much more. You can also download some extra tips for hosting a virtual Apply Yourself Florida event. If you have any questions regarding the College Ready Florida initiatives, contact LaVerne Handfield, FCAN’s Statewide Programs Coordinator.


Visit FCAN’s COVID-19 Resources & Info section
How to celebrate Florida College Decision Day virtually

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