Q&A With College Board’s April Bell On BigFuture And Helping Students Stay On Track With The College Process

It’s an important time for most high school juniors and seniors who are immersed in the college admissions process and are busily planning their futures. But luckily, they have more help than ever to stay organized throughout the college preparation and application process thanks to BigFuture. The College Board’s free planning resource, which launched earlier this year, seeks to simplify the college process and guide students, families, and educators. We chatted with April Bell, director of counseling at the College Board, about the site’s immense offerings, how college preparation is changing for Millennials today, and more.

BigFutureYpulse: Can you tell us about BigFuture and what prompted College Board to create this service?

April Bell: BigFuture is a revision of a service that we already had online. At CollegeBoard.org originally, we had information and materials in regards to college planning and career planning, but we knew it was time to give ourselves a revamp and provide a service to students and their families that was more engaging and interactive. We brought in educators, students, and parents to help with the creation of it to ensure that it would be appealing to those we're serving.

YP: When are you finding that students begin the college process and has this changed at all in recent years?

AB: Students are searching earlier than before. For example, we find that middle school students are more engaged in the process. They’re interested in careers and figuring out what they should do in middle and high school to prepare. We’re also finding that because of individual learning plans or more customized curriculums that different districts are making available across the country, a lot of educators are utilizing our tools in regards to making plans and helping students…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “Bojack Horseman was my favorite show last year because it was funny and real. Maybe too real, just beautiful.”–Male, 23, AZ

Binge drinking in college is common, and suggested reasons for the behaviors range from boredom to helicopter parenting—but it’s also possible they’re drinking to extremes to escape extreme stress. Today’s college students can have an “intense preoccupation with success” thanks to the competition it takes to get into schools, fear of the tough job market, and looming loan debt. In this context, “blacking out has become so normal that even if you don’t personally do it, you understand why others do. It’s a mutually recognized method of stress relief. To treat it as anything else would be judgmental." (NYTimes)

Once again, Millennials’ food preferences are “killing” a major product. Young consumers’ preoccupation with health have caused a yogurt problem for General Mills, where sales in the category have nosedived 15%. The downturn is likely due to the new perspective that sugar, not fat, is the real diet evil, a shift that has caused low-fat and low-cal foods to “fall out of vogue.”(As we predicted.) In more positive, related, news for the brand, organic and natural products have seen “immense growth.” (MediaPostMSN)

More teens are on YouTube than on the biggest social networks, according to research from the National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft. Their poll of 13-17-year-old internet users found that 91% say they use YouTube, compared to 66% who use Snapchat, 65% who use Instagram, and 61% who use Facebook. Their heavy use of the site is one of the reasons that YouTube creators have more influence over their purchase intent than traditional TV and movie celebs. Interestingly, the second most-used platform was actually Gmail, with 75% of teens reporting they use the email app. (eMarketer)

Millennials have been called out as a threat to the diamond industry, causing Twitter to offer their own blunt explanationsfor why the generation isn’t buying the “sparkly status symbols.” But hold up: De Beer’s annual report has declared, “Millennials spent nearly $26 billion on diamond jewelry [in 2015]…acquiring more than any other generation.” So why is everyone saying they aren’t buying diamonds when they reportedly purchased 45% of retail sales in four major markets? It might be another case of a narrative about the generation being more click-worthy than the reality. (Forbes)

This month, the Generation Beauty event brought together Instagram beauty influencers, beauty brands, and their loyal teen fans for a weekend of meet-and-greets and product samples. Young consumers are undoubtedly looking to their favorite digital personalities for product recommendations, and say it’s best “when they give their honest opinion,” trusting those posts more than those where copy is read directly off a package—“a dead giveaway that it’s sponsored.” Collaborations between brands and social influencers are reportedly especially popular with fans. (Racked)

Quote of the Day: “Jane the Virgin was my favorite show to watch last year because it was dramatic, yet relatable and hilarious. I also love the fact that it features many women actors and actors of color.” –Female, 17, Guam

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