Michigan's College Access Blog

Decision Day 2018 Recap: Celebrating the Journey to Higher Education

As the school year comes to a close and seniors are preparing for their next steps after graduation, the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is taking a moment to reflect on our statewide Decision Day celebrations. Over 250 participating Michigan high schools, from Painesdale to Detroit, took to the month of May to celebrate their seniors’ decisions to pursue postsecondary education. These events ranged from pep rallies to school fairs, and recognized a combined 37,000 seniors in front of their fellow students. Decision Day events celebrate graduating seniors, build a college-going culture in schools, and inspire younger students to take the first steps on their journey to higher education. These events are widely attended by underclassmen; this year’s celebration included an estimated 51,200 non-seniors who participated. These numbers are significant given that 88% of surveyed host sites agreed that the initiative benefited their efforts to build a college-going culture in their school, and 83% believe that it will have a positive impact on college attainment and/or enrollment. 


The most successful of these celebrations extend beyond the school building itself, and engage the local community. This engagement comes from a variety of sources and looks differently from community to community. Many local businesses donate materials or sponsor events, nonprofits often provide volunteers or help plan the event, while local media may cover events or publish lists of seniors with their decisions. Higher education institutions also often provide giveaways, speakers, and/or mascots to help elevate the work of the high schools. All of these pieces help ensure that seniors feel supported by their community as they begin their journey to and through postsecondary education.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018! We look forward to working with Class of 2019 next school year.


Connor McLaughlin, Program Associate
Posted: June 6, 2018

2018 College Advocacy Day Recap

Last year, the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) released its four-year strategic plan. Through the development of this plan, we reaffirmed our commitment to serving as a strong advocate for low-income, first generation college students, and students of color. In addition, we received a Member Advocacy Grant from the National College Access Network, which helped us as we revitalized Advocacy Day. Having strong community support for MCAN’s college access vision and this financial support allowed us to develop this day to break down barriers facing nontraditional college students through training, education and policy.

Last week, MCAN hosted its second annual College Access Advocacy Day, which brought over 50 college access champions visited the Capitol to participate in the event. This year, participates received comprehensive training from Michigan’s Children while also hearing inspiring messages from State Senator Jim Anaich and State Representatives Darrin Camilleri and Ben Frederick. In addition to the training, the event provided an opportunity for attendees to meet with state legislators and discuss Michigan’s educational challenges and opportunities.  

Participants were able to discuss their respective programs and initiatives with state legislators and also advocate for several legislative priorities, including:

  • Key programs included in the Governor’s Marshall Plan for Talent, including:
    • MI Bright Future Expansion
    • Talent Pledge Scholarships
    • Career Navigators
  • 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
  • Adoption of a postsecondary education attainment goal (60% degree attainment by 2025)

Each legislator also received a local data brief, highlighting the various college access professionals and programs working to improve degree attainment in their legislative districts. These profiles can be downloaded HERE.

We hope that each participant at our Second Annual College Access Advocacy Day felt empowered by the experience and encouraged to utilize their training and resources to continue their advocacy efforts and engagement at the both the state and local level.

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


Author: Emma Walter, Strategy Assistant
Posted: May 9, 2018

The Birth of 'The Bro Code'

From the beginning of my time serving as an adviser, I’ve been trying to find what we call balance. I’ve been attempting to give 100 percent to both myself and students; however, it is never that simple… This isn’t the kind of job where you can leave your “work” at work, because we carry the concerns and issues of our students, inside of our hearts. Simply speaking, I work from both my mind and my heart, when performing my responsibilities as an adviser. With this being said, these two sources served me well, on January 19th, 2018, as I facilitated The Bro Code.

This event was birthed from me wanting my senior males to see their college potential. I had such a difficult time breaking ice with many of them, due to their closed perspectives about college. In meetings, from some more than others, I’d get blank stares and phrases like “I don’t need to go to college”, or “This school stuff ain’t for me…”.They’d leave their meeting, and I’d be furious, because they were so unresponsive!! It seemed as if they didn’t believe me when I would say “You can go to college and do amazing things there!”, but as I dug deeper, I realized that they didn’t fully believe in themselves.

Though they never shared that with me in plain words, I knew. I knew I needed to find relatable figures in the Higher Education field, who could speak their language. I, obviously, didn’t know enough of this “code” to break through to them… and then, it clicked: I didn’t know the “bro” code. For weeks, I brainstormed a mini leadership event and bounced ideas of my amazing supervisor, Cherice Redwine-Fergerson and our Conflict Resolution Coordinator, Troy Haney. They served as the sounding board, who were honest with me, about what would or would not be engaging for the students. After much pruning, I had created an event that consisted of: leadership activities based on pop culture references, motivational speeches, and a filling lunch - all led by relatable men in the higher education field.

Finally, when the day arrived… everything that I hoped for occurred. It took time for my students to get comfortable with their group leaders, but when they did? I believe my students began to see themselves. The group leaders were amazing men I’ve met in my career: Christopher Scott, Admissions Representative, University of Toledo; Dr. Terry Flennaugh, Coordinator of Urban Education Initiatives for the College of Education, Michigan State University; Craig Boyd, Assistant Director Regional Location, Western Michigan University; Matthew Sehrsweeney, Representative, Wayne County College Access Network; Daniel Graves, Director of Curriculum at Henry Ford Academy; Troy Haney, Conflict Resolution Coordinator at Henry Ford Academy; and Ron Mixon, student at Central Michigan University. Eventually, I heard laughs, honest dialogue, problem solving, and witnessed the exchange of confidence. It was later confirmed that someone “got it”, when one of my most challenging seniors said he now wants to share his experience through high school with underclassmen, so that “Nobody has to go through what I went through…”

I was so full… not because it could be said that a great event took place, but because impactful connections were made, and students left changed. For me, that’s what this job is all about.


Author: J'Mesha Anderson, AdviseMI Adviser, Henry Ford Academy
Posted: March 28, 2018

MCAN is Moving!

Happy Spring! 

Spring is here, bringing with it warm, sunny weather, nesting birds, and bright spring flowers. It also brings a fresh, new start! If you haven’t heard the news, MCAN is moving its office location. We are excited to move to our new office, just a few blocks from the Capitol. We will be a short walk away from one of our favorite coffee shops, Biggby, and just across the street from the YMCA (lunch workout anyone?).

Look for updates on social media as we make our move this Friday, March 23, to:

200 N Washington Square
Lansing, MI 48933

Hope to you seen in our new home!


Author: Vicky L. Wright, Operations Manager
Posted: March 20, 2018


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