Michigan's College Access Blog

#MiDecision Day Contest

This year the Michigan College Access Network created an Instagram contest mirroring The College Board’s #Collegiance campaign, in order to encourage Michigan students to participate in the national competition as well as to build some social media buzz around College Decision Day. As you know, Decision Day is Michigan’s version of the national College Signing Day initiative where schools hold an event to celebrate the postsecondary plans of their seniors. The heart of both the national and statewide challenges is for students to post social media pictures and videos creatively announcing the college they’ve decided to attend in the Fall. To learn more about the national contest, visit collegiance.wcm.collegeboard.org.

Winners of the Michigan contest will receive gift cards to help pay for college necessities. MCAN staff have chosen three videos, two photos, and one boomerang post as winners based on creativity and messaging. We wish all of our participants the best of luck within the #Collegiance campaign.

Now, to announce the winners!


Heavyn Word will be attending Oakland University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BT_zQdmlhyI/?tagged=midecisionday

The MCAN staff felt this was an excellent use of the boomerang medium to send a clear and concise declaration of where she’ll be attending. Oakland will be lucky to have you!


Jenny Wu will be attending the University of Michigan - https://www.instagram.com/p/BTqEjrdlcll/?tagged=midecisionday

We loved Jenny’s use of U of M swag and the fun nature of the photo. Best of luck at U of M!


Sara Lindberg will be attending Grand Valley State University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BS6gcqMgdfu/?tagged=midecisionday

Sara’s photo in front of the Cook Carillon Tower won the votes of MCAN staff thanks to its presence on campus and GVSU Apparel. Go Lakers!



Valerie Aten will be attending Michigan State University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BUGIjZPlO46/?tagged=midecisionday

A personal favorite, Valerie blew MCAN staff away by combining her passions with her announcement as well as the explosive twist at the end. Well done Valerie!

Brittany and Friends will be attending the University of Michigan, Alabama State University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan State University, Alabama A&M University, and Northwestern University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BT86Fl8hovN/?tagged=midecisionday

We absolutely loved the creativeness of this post, and the obvious time spent editing and pulling it together. Great job all of you, and we wish you the best of luck in your travels and at your respective schools.

Jacob will be attending Ferris State University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BUGYyg5DrW4/?tagged=midecisionday

Once again, we really enjoyed the inclusion of Jacob’s passion for tennis in the video, and thought it was wonderful how he brought in landmarks from the different campuses. Congrats on finding the one!

Congratulations once again to all of our winners, and thank you to all of our participants in the competition this year. Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks for our official Decision Day 2017 wrap-up blog post.


Author: Connor McLaughlin, Program Assistant
Posted: May 24, 2017

Inspiring a Tradition - 2015 CSD with Mrs. Obama in Detroit

This blog post was authored by Maria C. Montoya with Excellent Schools Detroit and was originally published on Medium.com as part of Better Make Room's College Signing Day blog series. Portions of the blog are posted here with permission.
All too often the individuals who are lifted up to our youth as role models are music icons and/or athletes. Yes, music icons and athletes are valuable roles models, but our students also need to be exposed to more everyday heroes. Everyday heroes often attribute post-secondary education as a key pathway to their success and are often not featured or honored for their choices. 

Choosing to take this path is something that deserves recognition, and a great deal of support from our communities. That is why it was a very easy decision for us to decide to host the first-ever citywide Detroit College Signing Day in May 2015... Continue Reading 


College Access Advocacy Day Reflections

Every day, thousands of individuals work to assist students and families with the college going process. From searching for scholarships and grants to determining the best college to attend, our state is full of college access champions who are committed to increasing Michigan’s degree attainment rate one student at a time. While we know these efforts have a huge impact, we also know that many of the barriers facing nontraditional college students can only be addressed through policy. 

The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) strives to serve as Michigan's authority on college access and success issues through policy and advocacy. We work diligently to advocate for policy reforms that expand postsecondary opportunities for low-income students, first-generation college going students, and students of color.

Last week, over sixty college access champions visited the state capitol for MCAN’s first College Access Advocacy Day.  The event provided an opportunity for Local College Access Networks, promise zones, and other college access and success programs to meet with state legislators and discuss Michigan’s educational challenges and opportunities.   Participants rallied around several priorities, including:

  • Adoption of a postsecondary education attainment goal (60% degree attainment by 2025)
  • Adequate funding for Michigan’s colleges and universities as they support Michigan students toward degree completion
  • Increased financial assistance to Michigan students as they pursue postsecondary education
  • Support for House Bill 4181, which specifies that 50 of the 150 required professional development hours for school counselors must be dedicated to college and career counseling

We hope that each participant in our inaugural College Access Advocacy Day felt empowered by the experience and will use the training and resources to continue their advocacy efforts in the weeks and months ahead.

If you would like more information on MCAN’s Advocacy Strategy, visit www.micollegeaccess.org/advocacy or contact MCAN staff members Brandy Johnson or Sarah Anthony. 

Sarah Anthony

Author: Sarah Anthony, Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy
Posted: April 25, 2017

ALICE Report Synopsis

The new Michigan Association of United Ways ALICE report (for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), makes clear that Michigan is facing severe structural economic challenges. In the seventh year of a national economic expansion––and an even stronger rebound from near bankruptcy of the domestic auto industry––too many Michigan households are struggling.

Forty percent of Michigan households do not have sufficient income to pay for the necessities: primarily housing, childcare, food, health care, taxes and transportation. More than 1.5 million Michigan households are without adequate income to pay for basic necessities. As the report makes clear this is an all Michigan problem: in every county, among all races and all ages. 


  • Not enough of us work: Michigan is 40th in the proportion of adults who work. 400,000 fewer Michiganders working today than in 2000.
  • Not enough of us work in good-paying jobs: 16 percent below the national average in wages and benefits per capita. In 2000 Michigan was one percent below.
  • Too low education attainment. 32nd in the proportion of adults with a four-year degree or more. And even lower in all the rankings of K-12 student outcomes

This pattern is true irrespective of race. Racial discrimination is an ongoing reality in employment, education, housing and the criminal justice system; but class is now the main dividing line in the American economy and increasingly class is defined by college attainment.

The preeminent challenge of our times is figuring out how to reverse what is being called the Great Decoupling. Where even when the economy is growing––as it has been in Michigan since the end of the Great Recession––only those at the top are benefiting from that growth. The policy priority needs to be reestablishing an economy where as the economy grows all Michigan households enjoy rising incomes.

It should now be clear that having a growing economy, or a low unemployment rate, or being business friendly––all of which have been the goals of state policymakers now and in the past––does not lead to an economy that benefits all. Michigan has been making progress on all three since the end of the  Great Recession. Its far past time that we make explicit that the goal of state economic policy is a rising household income for all Michiganders.

The ALICE report makes clear that the economy is generating too many jobs that pay too little to pay the bills, save for retirement and the kids education and pass on a better opportunity to the next generation. That requires state policies to both remove the multiple barriers many face to find gainful employment and to augment wages and benefits through some combination of employer mandates and/or an expanded safety net. 

But the key to having an economy with rising household incomes for all is good-paying jobs and careers. Where careers are for forty years, not a first job. The prime focus of economic policy must be helping people have a career of good-paying work.

By far the most reliable path to substantially reducing the number of Michigan ALICE households is increased education attainment. The data are clear: the higher one’s education attainment the more one works and earns. The power of education attainment in raising one’s income has been growing for decades. The odds are great that the income gap by education attainment will continue to widen. The most reliable path to a good-paying career is with a bachelor’s degree or more, in both STEM and non-STEM fields.

Clearly not all good-paying jobs require a four-year degree. There are many good-paying jobs that can be obtained with an associate’s degree or occupational credential. But the preponderance of good-paying jobs are going to those with four-year degrees or more. 

In addition, the labor market is now characterized by accelerated creative destruction. Those who have the agility and ability to constantly switch occupations will do best over a forty year career. The notion of a career ladder––predictable and linear steps upward––in a world that is constantly changing is obsolete.

Rather people will need to be like rock climbers––constantly adjusting to new opportunities and challenges, and then resourceful to take advantage of those opportunities. Add to that, in an economy where more and more work is contingent, increasingly the ability to be your own employer. Finding good-paying work and good benefits and managing your own finances. These are the kind of skills that are developed best by earning a four-year degree, particularly in the liberal arts. 

If Michigan is going to be a place with a broad middle class, if employers are going to have the supply of skilled workers they need and if Michigan is going to be a place once again where kids regularly do better than their parents, it will happen because the state made a commitment to provide an education system for all from birth through higher education that builds rigorous broad skills that are the foundation of successful forty-year careers.

Author: Lou Glazer, President and Co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc.
Posted: April 11, 2017


Michigan Future, Inc. is a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

Michigan College Access Network | 200 N Washington Square, Suite 210, Lansing, MI 48933 (map) | (517) 316-1713 Contact Us | Site Map | Terms and Privacy