The college admissions process can be tedious and intimidating. From choosing the right college to navigating the FAFSA application, awareness is key! That’s why the Detroit College Access Network(DCAN), a local organization of leaders and educators working together to ensure all Detroit students have the opportunity to attend college, celebrates College Application Month (CAM) during the month of October.
Pre-gaming begins with #WhyApply Day, usually at the end of September. It’s the annual kickoff celebration of the college application season. Initiatives such as CAM brings forth so much support, access and resources for students who may be unsure of next steps after high school. For many, college was never even considered as an option. For others, being first-generation or coming from a low-income family, may feel added pressure from those circumstances. Nevertheless, the DCAN provides the tools necessary to plan and execute. This is exactly the type of support and information some students need to make postsecondary education a priority and their next step.
In line with the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), DCAN aims to graduate 90% of Detroit high school students who go on to postsecondary programs without needed academic remediation. Through a collective impact approach, DCAN promotes a college-going culture by strengthening college access and success activities in Detroit. This year alone, there are 346 schools participating in Michigan College Month across the state. This includes Detroit School of Arts, Voyageur College Prep and Martin Luther King High School, just to name a few. To see a list of all participating schools, click here.
In an interview, Jamie Jacobs, Senior Director of High School Innovation with MCAN, explains why the Michigan College Month initiative is so important:
“The college and FAFSA application process are two barriers students often cite in the college planning process. The goal of Michigan College Month is to ensure schools are providing the necessary support and guidance to students to tackle these barriers during the school day. Students who are first in their family to attend college often do not know how to begin the process and while they may have supportive parents, if they have never been through the process themselves, they are not always aware of how to navigate the bureaucracy and obstacles of the college application and selection process. Once a student has applied to college and completed the FAFSA they often feel more empowered to consider college and a possible next step.”
When asked why the goal of reaching 60% MI residents with degrees or postsecondary certificates by 2025 is the big goal for MCAN, Jacobs explains, “MCAN believes that postsecondary education is a public good – an economic imperative. Postsecondary educational opportunity and attainment are critical to a just and equitable society, strong economy and healthy communities. Based on labor market projections, more than 60% of jobs in the year 2025 will require postsecondary education (Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce). Michigan has transitioned from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy and postsecondary education is a prerequisite for success in the new economy.”
Not only has Michigan transitioned from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy, but Detroit in particular and our students must be ready!
Here are some of DCAN’s campaigns and resources:
- Detroit College Day – What better way to get high school juniors and seniors excited about the college planning process than an entire day dedicated to collegiate awareness and motivation. This day includes a college fair, college knowledge workshops and panel discussions all hosted by DCAN, in partnership with Michigan State University College Advising Corps (MSUCAC), AdviseMI College Advising Program, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Take a look at the 2018 agenda.
- Detroit Drives FAFSA – While the cost of college can be intimidating, especially for low-income and/or first-generation students, the rewards of a post-secondary education can be abundant. This is why the Detroit Drives FAFSA campaign is in place – and federal loans and grants aren’t the only options. They also provide college-going workshops, college tours, statewide scholarships and grants, and often institutional and community-based scholarships and grants. Informational events on the importance on FAFSA and training/instructional events for families are also included.
- College Decision Day – Inspired by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Signing Day, this “signing” day celebrates high school seniors’ intent to play sports at a specific college to reinforce excellence not just as an athlete, but in the classroom. They’re not just signing a commitment to be a great athlete, but to successfully complete their education.
- College Navigator – This interactive website offers statistical information on institutions and their programs.
- College Scorecard – College Scorecard offers comparable cost essential information on institutions.
- Big Future – This program puts students on the path to success through collegiate opportunities. Students can explore and research programs, interests, educators and schools.
- College Raptor – College Raptor provide institution matches based on financial needs and interests.
For students all over the city of Detroit, college can be a reality through Detroit College Access Network’s efforts. How are you celebrating College Application Month? Let us know in the comments below!