ACT Academy Provides Test-Taking Skills and College Readiness to over 200 Arkansas High School Students

ACT Academy students tour the University of Arkansas to kick-off their week of test-taking skill lectures and college experience.
Photo by Ryan Stackable

ACT Academy students tour the University of Arkansas to kick-off their week of test-taking skill lectures and college experience.

Over 200 Arkansas high school students took part in test-taking and college readiness prep at the ACT Academy during June 2017.

The purpose of the ACT Academy is to improve student participants' ACT scores and provide college readiness skills while exposing them to college academics and campus life. The academy strives to serve high school students from across the state by increasing their college access, readiness and retention.

The Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education hosts two sessions of the ACT Academy every summer on the University of Arkansas campus.

During the academy students receive rigorous ACT test preparation lectures. They also have the opportunity to engage with faculty and staff and U of A students serving as mentors, participate in cultural activities, and attend lectures encouraging self-advocacy, networking, financial literacy and other matters of college planning. Students use recreation, dining and housing facilities while on campus, getting acquainted with what life would be like while pursuing a degree after high school.

Students apply to attend early in the spring semester, submitting a short essay expressing their interest in the program and their hopes for their college futures. First-generation and low-income rising juniors and seniors earn priority consideration.

The ACT Academy has established partnerships with key high schools in every region of the state of Arkansas. This summer, over 60 high schools from across the state — from Ashdown to Siloam Springs and Helena-West Helena to Blytheville — were represented in the student participants.

The ACT Academy began in 2010 with an inaugural class of 54 scholars and has grown to serve as many as 250 students each summer.

The ACT Academy is a part of the university's College Access Initiative — an academic outreach effort established by the university in 2010. College Access Initiative, through the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education in the Division of Student Affairs, provides ACT training and counseling, academic enrichment, and assistance with admissions and financial aid processes - all designed to improve college readiness and college access to Arkansas students, especially underrepresented populations.

Sarah Draine, director of the College Access Initiative, said students from these communities in the state need help gaining awareness of the opportunities for higher education and a substantial support system to make it to graduation.

"Through the ACT Academy we're building the awareness, the knowledge, and letting them know that we are a resource to them in their pursuit of higher education," Draine said. "We want to help them build this bridge from their high school and their community to their own college experience."

To learn more about the impact of the ACT Academy on college access and readiness and the U of A student mentors who lead high school students through their time on campus visit the Division of Student Affairs' blog at


Scott Flanagin, executive director for communications
Student Affair Development and Communication

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations


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