Michigan College Access Network

April 17, 2015 1:40 pm

Helping more students receive a post-secondary education

Only 52% of all students in Michigan seeking higher education successfully complete a degree, earn a certificate, or transfer to another institution if at a community college within 6 years. Since 2010, this data MCANlogoalong with a solid plan to address these trends is the work of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). Did you know that MAPSA has partnered with MCAN to improve outcomes for students in Detroit?

MAPSA is proud to work alongside MCAN and the Detroit College Access Network (DCAN) and other community organizations to ensure every student has an opportunity to attend a college or university. Under the leadership of Brandy Johnson, MCAN has a goal to increase the percentage of all Michigan residents with high-quality degrees to certificates to 60% by 2025.

The mission of MCAN is “To increase college readiness, participation and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first generation college going students, and students of color.”

What stands in the way of more students attending post-secondary education? And what can you do as a leader to remove these barriers?

Expectations. Given the chance, most students will meet the expectations that you have for them. But what if your expectations are low? By not expecting positive career and college plans and outcomes for students, they receive the message that a successful and viable post-secondary experience is not for everyone. Expect and require ALL students to develop feasible college and career plans.

Family support. Most parents want their kids to go to college, right? The easy answer is ‘yes.’ The answer becomes cloudy when talking about low-income children. Many of our low-income students will be the first in their family to go to college. Navigating the application process, financial aid, and school visits is difficult for experienced college goers. Imagine the intimidation for a parent who has never been in that environment. School leaders and counselors need to be sensitive to the levels of comfort a parent has navigating the college arena.

On the flip side of this, you might encounter families who rely on their students for financial help. A child in college can’t contribute to the family’s income. Working with children and families to see the long-term benefits of post-secondary education might be necessary.

Equitable student support. Counselors (if your school is lucky to have one) are often responsible for assisting hundreds of students with post-secondary planning. As is often the case, the focus is on the students deemed “most likely to succeed;” the ones who are probably going to college with or without the assistance of school counselors. Here is where schools need to identify the students who aren’t the squeaky wheel and ensure they have access to the resources they need to navigate the application process.

Start early. It is never too early to start talking about career goals and aspirations with your students. Even at a very young age, students benefit from learning about different types of careers and what skills or education that it takes to have a career in certain field. Students are going to be most successful when they have had the chance to learn about themselves, what they enjoy and what they are good at, and explore opportunities that match who they are. When students self-identify long term goals, they are more likely to see the importance of everyday academics and post-secondary attainment.

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