Michigan's College Access Blog

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


Stronger Nation, Stronger Michigan: 2018 Update on Michigan’s Progress Toward Goal 2025

At the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) our goal is to increase the percentage of Michigan residents with degrees or postsecondary certificates to 60 percent by the year 2025.

Last month, Lumina Foundation released its annual Stronger Nation report which provides a progress report on our country’s postsecondary educational attainment rate.  MCAN uses this data to educate statewide and local stakeholders on Michigan residents’ educational achievements beyond high school.   

Here are a few highlights from the report that are specific to Michigan:

  • Michigan’s official postsecondary attainment rate is now 43.7 percent for Michigan residents ages 25-64. This number includes associate degrees or higher as well as high-quality postsecondary certificates and is a slight increase from last year.
  • Since 2008, Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate has increased by 8.1 percentage points.
  • While our state has seen increases over the years, we continue to see significant gaps in educational attainment among African-American, Hispanic and Native American students, compared to their white and Asian counterparts.
  • Michigan is still behind the national average by 3.2 percentage points.

While we are encouraged by our state’s attainment increase, we know we must continue to do better to reach Goal 2025. Our executive director, Brandy Johnson, recently had an op-ed in Bridge magazine highlighting the need for our state to prioritize higher education following Detroit and Grand Rapid’s failed bid for Amazon.

MCAN supports various initiatives to make our goal a reality, including training and professional development, grant-making, and advocacy at the local and state level. Through innovative partnerships, we strive to ensure that every student knows they are college material. 

To view the full report, please visit the Strong Nation website and share this data locally with your community.


Author: Jamie Jacobs, Senior Director of Capacity Building
Posted: March 6, 2018

Top 5 Reasons to Attend the MCAN Conference

The Michigan College Access Network’s 8th annual conference will be here before you know it, so we encourage you to register now — you won’t want to miss it. 

The conference is scheduled for March 12-13 and the theme is “Cultivating Tomorrow’s Talent,” because we understand the importance of growing talent in Michigan. By advocating for better programs and initiatives, students have a better support system to pursue education after high school.

Why else should you register? Check out our top 5 reasons below:

#1: Awards
This year, there are eight award categories that recognize the extraordinary work throughout Michigan to improve postsecondary attainment. These awards honor individuals and organizations that have made a remarkable impact on increasing college readiness, participation and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income and first-generation students and students of color. 

#2 Breakout sessions
This year’s conference boasts nearly 40 breakout sessions between five session blocks, providing attendees a great variety of options.

Here is just a few of the breakout sessions to spark your interest:

  • Have it Your Way Campus Visits
  • Helping Students Create a Balanced College List Using Match and Fit
  • Crossing the FAFSA Line
  • Evaluating Pre-College Programs: Strategies and Opportunities
  • Better College Essays in Less Time 

#3 Pre-conference opportunities
This year’s pre-conference includes four workshops to choose from:

  • Advocating for Attainment
  • Utilizing MCAN Statewide Initiatives to Build Momentum in Your School
  • Community College 101: Understanding the Path to a Degree through Michigan's Community Colleges
  • Serving Undocumented, DACAmented and Immigrant Students 

#4 Extraordinary Keynote Speakers
This year’s keynote speakers are Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, Michele Siqueiros and a representative from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Dr. Pehrsson is Professor and Dean for Education and Human Services, Director of Professional Education and oversees the Centers for Charter Schools and STEM Education at Central Michigan University (CMU). Michele Siqueiros is President of the Campaign for College Opportunity in Los Angeles.

Siqueiros will kick off the conference on March 12 discussing how we must keep an equity lens while building the multiple pathways to college. Dr. Pehrsson will open Day 2 discussing how we can work together to enhance college readiness among underserved student populations. Wrapping up the conference as our final keynote speaker is a representative from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles who will share FCA’s commitment to talent development and postsecondary education and discuss how other business leaders can connect with local college access efforts.

#5 College Fair for Practitioners
Back by popular demand, more than 30 colleges from across Michigan will be available to share information about their wrap around support programs the institution provides for target student populations.

Registration closes Feb. 26. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity. We’ve got a package option for everyone!



Author: Lisa King, Communication Consultant
Posted: Feb. 15, 2018

#NSCW18: Why I Love Being A School Counselor

My name is Cathy Longstreet and I am a school counselor at Hastings High School, a rural high school in southwest Michigan. I have worked in this district for 22 years. I started out as a second grade teacher, and became an elementary school counselor within a few years of my employment. 

I made the change to school counseling because I felt I could be more involved in students' lives by helping them plan for their future, which is why I got into education in the first place.  As my district went through lean financial years, our school counselor numbers decreased from eight to two overall.  I was moved up from elementary to middle school, then again to high school. While often challenging, these experiences have given me a deeper understanding of students as they grow and mature throughout their school career. 

While I love my career, those of us in our profession know it is not without its fair share of trials and frustrations. The work is challenging, and often does not adhere to a linear path or follow a prescribed method. Much of it is completed “behind the scenes” and it can take many years to see the success of our efforts, if at all.  We are in this profession because we care about our students and want to assist them as they work towards a satisfying, productive life.  Every day counselors are helping students map out their academic, personal, and career goals - essentially encouraging them to “Reach for the Stars”.  They do this in a number of ways: by teaching classroom guidance lessons, conducting individual counseling sessions, hosting parent nights, planning career fairs, or completing 100s of schedule changes, for example, sometimes all within the same few days!  Everything we do, we do it with our students in mind.  For me, the payoff is more than worth it, as I get to witness my students reaching the goals they have worked towards their entire school career. 

People in the community may wonder how they can best support their school counselor.  I think first, school counselors must make an effort to educate their community members, sharing examples of what they do on a daily basis, perhaps by presenting their programs to their local PTA or school board. Be proud of what you do! Share your students’ successes!  If our communities have a general understanding of what we do, then they may better understand our challenges when we are working with a student to counselor ratio of 500:1.

As school counselors work with students, they also have the opportunity to strengthen their local community. In my community, our local businesses partner with our high school, offering job shadowing, company interviews, and tours, along with specialized training that often leads to employment and free education after graduation.  This has had a positive effect on our graduation rate as well as led to more sustainable careers for our graduates. When schools and communities share a strong connection, great things happen.

I became a school counselor because every day I get to interact with my students in meaningful ways.  Especially during National School Counselors week, I celebrate the hard work of all school counselors as they help their students Reach ForThe Stars!

Guest Author: Cathy Longstreet, counselor, Hastings High School

Posted: Feb. 4, 2018 

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