Michigan's College Access Blog

Introducing the Journal of College Access

Originally published in the Journal of College Access, January 2015, and adapted with permission of the authors.

The Journal of College Access focuses on current trends, research, practices, and development of all types of programs, policies, and activities related to the access of, and success in postsecondary education. Issues of college aspiration, qualification, application, enrollment, and persistence are the primary emphases.

Introduction by the Co-Editors

Launching a new academic journal, especially one focused on college access, is a dream come true! This inaugural issue features three scholarly pieces: college and career readiness counseling training; students with intellectual disabilities; and summer support. These all are critical topics in the field of college access. We are also excited to provide guest perspectives from Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie P. Merisotis, and to showcase the voice of expert Mandy Savitz-Romer, Ph.D. of Harvard University.

Featured Articles

Advisor and Student Experiences of Summer Support for College-Intending, Low-Income High School Graduates
This piece provides important insights into “summer melt,” the phenomenon that occurs when college-bound high school graduates do not follow through on the summer activities needed to attend college in the fall. New programs suggest there are ways to reduce summer melt; this article offers excellent insights into their efficacy.

The Importance and Implementation of Eight Components of College and Career Readiness Counseling in School Counselor Education Programs
Many advocates of college access work with the eight-part framework established by the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy, but are counselor educators familiar with it—and how much value do they place on each component? This study begins to address this important question, and the implications for pre-service counselor training.

Increasing Access to Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
College access is often limited to the construct of expanding opportunities to low-income students and students of color. This article identifies efforts to broaden college access to students who were once considered beyond the reach of college opportunities based on intellectual disability, a vital dimension of the college access movement that is often overlooked.

We acknowledge the support of JCA Launchthe Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network, the publishing service bepress, and Maira Bundza of Western Michigan University in helping us launch the journal and this first issue! In addition, special thanks to Fareed Shalhout and Alex Susienka who proofread the final version before we published.

We hope you enjoy reading the Journal of College Access as much as we enjoyed developing the first issue!

Pictured left to right:  ScholarWorks Librarian Maira Bundza; Co-Editor Christopher Tremblay; and Michigan College Access Network Executive Director Brandy Johnson


PatrickDr. Patrick O’Connor, associate dean for college counseling at Kingswood Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, MI and board member for the Michigan College Access Network.



Christopher 1 425x640Dr. Christopher W. Tremblay, associate provost for enrollment management at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI and active member of the College and Career Action Network in Kalamazoo and Michigan College Access Network.



Posted: January 28, 2015

How to Prioritize Communication Planning

LCAN Spotlight: Jackson County Cradle 2 Career Network

Through MCAN's blog and LCAN Spotlights, we've stressed the importance of communication. However, as many of you may 
In today's LCAN Spotlight we look to Jackson County Cradle 2 Career Network. While the C2C Network has had a strong network in place for some time, the leadership team recognized the need for a communications strategy while it was preparing to re-brand the network as Cradle 2 Career. find, it can be hard to prioritize the time to plan a communications strategy.

There are a number of ways an LCAN can tackle the development and execution of a communications plan, and they don't require hiring a full-time communications director.

“The reality was as network coordinator, I did not have the time or strong skill set to manage a communications strategy,” said Irene LeCrone, Jackson County C2C network coordinator. “The leadership team got creative and leveraged existing community resources to get the job done.”  

First, a consultant hired by United Way was utilized to draft the plan. Next, the Intermediate School District committed to providing time from their communications staff to help execute the strategy. Initially, the ISD committed 20 hours per week of their communications coordinator’s time to support the C2C Network. Once the plan was established and moving forward, the allotted time dropped to 5 hours per week.

Utilizing ISD Communications Coordinator Kim Medlock’s expertise was truly a win for the network and the ISD. At the time, Kim was new to her role at the ISD so it provided solid training ground for her to get to know the community and educational partners outside of the school district. Kim now serves on the C2C Community Engagement Team, ensuring the LCAN has a strong brand and voice.

“This level of involvement and creativity from the leadership team members was crucial,” said Irene. “We encourage other LCAN leadership teams to consider what talent and resources you have internally that can better support your growing network to improve college access and success.”

To learn more about Jackson County Cradle 2 Career, click here

Lisa KingAuthor: Lisa King, public relations consultant for Michigan College Access Network

Posted: January 21, 2015

Michigan makes the switch to the SAT

Recently the Michigan Department of Education announced that all public schools will offer the SAT rather than the ACT as a free college admissions test starting in 2016. Michigan has long been an "ACT only" state, which is why the recent announcement took many by surprise. Some school officials aren't looking forward to administering a new test, and many of our Local College Access Networks are wondering what this means for longitudinal student data. Although ACT has issued a formal protest against MDE and the Department of Technology, Management & Budget's decision, we must prepare for change and embrace the additional benefits the switch will bring to students.

According to department officials and education reforms experts, the switch to the SAT should be fairly painless for students. The SAT will be offered free of charge to all juniors and may better measure what students are learning from their classwork.

While the switch may seem daunting to school administers, school counselors, and community leaders, resources and support from The College Board should help soften the transition. The College Board has a number of helpful resources, campaigns and fee waiver programs, including some specifically targeted at low-income students and students of color.

Among their resources are free sample SAT questions, full SAT practice tests, a SAT online course and an official SAT study guide. Access to Opportunity is an initiative designed to identify and break down barriers preventing low-income, first generation and underrepresented minority students from accessing college. Additionally, low-income students can qualify for test fee waivers, college application fee waivers, and to receive college preparation paperwork. The College Board also dedicates a portion its website to education professionals, providing them with the tools they need to become proficient in test coordinating. These resources will allow school administrators to become familiar with the redesigned SAT and help them create curriculum that will prepare their students for the test.

And let us not forget Michigan eLibrary's LearningExpress has the SAT and the ACT WorkKeys covered! Students can utilize the free LearningExpress Library College Prep Center to take practice tests in preparation for all sections of the SAT test.


Many LCANs use ACT readiness scores to track the academic readiness of students in their community. As the SAT transition happens next year, MCAN will help coach these networks on how to manage the data transition.

MCAN also scheduled a webinar today, January 20, with Kahn Academy, a free online learning resource for students and educators. The College Board has recently partnered with Khan Academy to provide free SAT preparation materials to all students starting in 2015. Khan Academy will all be doing a major updated release of the SAT prep resources available this spring. It's not too late to register for the webinar!

The DTMB's decision to switch to the SAT is a reminder that the college-going process is forever changing. With the proper resources and tools our community leaders can prepare our students to successfully navigate the SAT. The added benefits for students will make the extra effort required by community leaders well worth it.

Jamie Jacobs headshot 2013Author: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development for the Michigan College Access Network

Posted: January 20, 2015

How to Make a College Promise: Lessons from Kalamazoo

Originally published through the W.E. Upjohn Institute blog on January 12, 2015.

As researchers focusing on issues of employment and education, we have been studying the impact of free college since the Kalamazoo Promise was announced just over nine years ago.  The President’s plan parallels the Kalamazoo Promise in important aspects, making the well‐researched Kalamazoo experience highly relevant to the debate about to begin in Congress. Clearly, low‐income and first‐generation college students face many barriers to higher education: adequate funding is just one hurdle. Our research shows, however, that reducing those financial barriers indisputably increases the number of young people attending post‐secondary institutions, progressing through school, and completing degrees or certificates.

The president’s program was modeled in part on the Tennessee Promise, an initiative announced last year by Republican Governor Bill Haslam that makes community college free for all Tennessee high‐school graduates beginning in 2015. The Tennessee Promise, in turn, was inspired by the Kalamazoo
Promise and a growing number of other place‐based scholarship programs in places as diverse as El Dorado, Arkansas, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In an important regard, the President’s plan differs from the Tennessee Promise and takes a lesson from Kalamazoo. Like many other scholarship programs, the Tennessee Promise is a “last‐dollar” program, meaning that funds are awarded after other sources of student loan financing are received. This structure has the unintended effect of benefiting middle‐income more than low‐income students, especially in the case of community colleges where federal financial aid in the form of Pell grants covers the full cost of community college.  

By contrast, one of the best aspects of the President’s plan is that the tuition funding would be awarded first, making it possible for low‐income students to use their Pell grants to support living costs, thereby reducing the number of hours worked and making it possible for them to focus on their education. The Kalamazoo Promise pioneered this innovation, but only one other Promise program among the states has adopted it to date.

Even more critically, our research into the impact of Promise programs has shown that money alone is not the answer. In Kalamazoo and elsewhere, it has become clear that local community colleges must be ready to accommodate an influx of students, many of them low‐income or first‐generation college‐goers
who often require extra support at the post‐secondary level. Supporting new students will also make new demands on local K‐12 school districts and community‐based organizations. The academic expectations of community colleges must be clearly articulated to K‐12 district leadership so that the transition from high school to college is smooth and students can avoid having to spend time and money on developmental or remedial courses. We call this community alignment, and it is a critical element in the success of any scholarship program.

The president’s proposal improves on the Tennessee model in several respects. Importantly, students may attend half‐time. In Kalamazoo, we have found that part‐time attendance can ease the transition to college for students who may not be fully prepared. It is also far‐sighted that the free community college tuition under the president’s proposal applies not only to recent high school graduates, as the Chicago and Tennessee programs do, but also to adults who can benefit from going back to college. Just as the GI Bill in the 1940s dramatically expanded the proportion of young people attending college, laying the groundwork for the U.S. economy’s dynamic growth in the 1950s and 1960s, so does expanded access to community college for recent graduates and adults in need of greater human capital could help businesses assemble the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century. 

We are at an exciting moment for college access, as a multitude of initiatives at the national, state, and local levels converge to expand opportunity, promote attainment, and reduce the cost of higher education. Some of the most innovative developments are taking place at the very local level, where place‐based scholarships like the Kalamazoo Promise are reshaping school districts, towns, and cities throughout the nation. They are an example of grassroots responses to local needs that is one of the great strengths of our policymaking framework. The president’s announcement provides much‐needed national leadership to move forward these multiple efforts. We hope that Congress will now join in, providing the resources needed for this investment in the nation’s economic future.

Guest Authors:

Michelle Miller-Adams

Michelle Miller-Adams, research associate at the W.E. Upjohn Institute and associate professor at Grand Valley State University
 Bridget Timmeney
Bridget Timmeney, special projects coordinator at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Posted: January 13, 2015


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