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Students Teach School Counselors to Use College Access Apps

It's called an App-a-thon.

The idea is for tech-savvy high school students to teach school counselors about mobile and web apps to use in the college search. In turn, the hope is that counselors will encourage more students to leverage the technology in their own college-application process.

This fall, the nonprofit organization College Summit is starting to host a series of App-a-thons in 10 cities across the country. The first will be in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 5, followed by events in Baltimore, New York, and Los Angeles. 

College Summit, which has served low-income students since 1993, trains student peer leaders to work with counselors to promote a college-going school culture. "We want to inspire seniors in high school to be co-college counselors," said Keith Frome, who co-founded of the organization and serves as its chief executive officer-elect. "It's potent to have positive peer influence on the aspirations of other kids in the school."

The App-a-thon is part of the organization's effort to expand the use of college access tools and encourage low-income students to apply to more schools, said Frome. Too often, first-generation college students go to school close to home where they think tuition is more affordable although generous financial aid packages might make some top-tier schools actually a better fit in the long-run, he said.

College Summit created a virtual College App Map with 30 milestones students need to accomplish on the road to college. It identified several apps that can help students in the process. For instance, College Abacus can analyze financial aid packages, Zombie College explains the college-going process through a fun game, and Tractus Insight helps assemble college lists.

Other App-a-thons will be held in Dallas; Miami; San Francisco; Denver; St. Louis; Tulsa, Okla., and New Haven, Conn. There will be 200 high school student leaders trained to teach nearly 500 counselors, with the goal of eventually introducing 100,000 students to the mobile and web apps through the initiative.

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