College Application and Exploration Season


Farrington High School Event, November 2013

CAES began in the 2012-13 school year as a pilot program of GEAR UP Hawaii under the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) initiative. This initiative is sponsored by the American Council on Education (ACE) and is based on the “College Application Week” program started by GEAR UP North Carolina in 2005 that has since expanded to all 50 states and the District of Columbia in Fall 2014. CAES piloted with 6 high schools and 924 participating seniors and has since expanded to 11 schools and 1786 participating seniors.

ACAC is a national effort to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. CAES shares ACAC’s goal, which is to help all high school seniors navigate the complex college admissions process and ensure they apply to at least one postsecondary institution. CAES supports Hawaii’s education goal to have 55% of adults earn a 2- or 4-year college degree by 2025. CAES activities engage seniors in the college application process early and give every student the option to attend college and the support they need to be prepared to enroll in college the fall after high school graduation.

Program Overview
The exact structure of CAES varies at each participating school. High schools serve as the lead for planning activities at their school based on their school’s priorities and needs. All schools host a College Application Event between October and November where high school seniors work with volunteers from higher education institutions and the community on submitting at least one college application.
Schools plan and facilitate pre- and post-application activities focused on college and career exploration and planning. In the 2015-16 school year, these activities should include utilizing MyFutureHawaii (or a similar planning tool), coordinating a student-led 55 by ’25 Campaign and Pledge day, encouraging FAFSA submission through a studentcoordinated FAFSA Challenge, and celebrating college-going seniors at a College Decision Day activity or event in May.

To learn more about the program, how to participate, and available support/resources for participating schools, contact Angela Matian at (808) 956-7471 or


Student at Farrington High School fills out the UH System application at their CAES event.