Michigan's College Access Blog

The Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success (CPRS) joins MCAN and the Journal of College Access

The Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success was launched in January 2018 in partial response to recommendations made in The State of School Counseling: Revisiting the Path Forward Report, which called for the development of a national research center focused on strengthening postsecondary advising and counseling practices in K-12 and Higher Ed.

The Center is focused on increasing equitable and accessible pathways to postsecondary success by creating an aligned outcome driven system, guided by student and parent voices, to disseminate new knowledge and discovery of college and career readiness and persistence models, while simultaneously connecting this new knowledge to K- 12 and higher education policy formation. Through strategic partnerships, the Center is engaged in multi-disciplinary approaches to improve equitable student postsecondary opportunity. The CPRS advisory board is comprised of well-respected national scholars, practitioners, and leaders who all promote strategies to increase equitable postsecondary preparation, access and completion.

CPRS objectives and goals include:

  • Identifying a common set of practitioner competencies needed to effectively guide and support students on their postsecondary path. 
  • Ensuring that every student has access to high quality postsecondary advising and counseling support
  • Elevating parent and student voices to better understand the support structures they desire as they traverse the postsecondary path
  • Dissecting school and community-based factors that influence and contribute to the current gaps and barriers for postsecondary attainment
  • Identifying and dismantling school-based systems, policies, and practices that hinder equitable postsecondary opportunities
  • Reimagining, reframing, and conducting interdisciplinary research to unpack effective counseling practices that support equitable student postsecondary exploration, and planning
  • Publishing practitioner, family, and student friendly reports to disseminate knowledge, provide tools and increase exposure to foster replication of evidence based practices

Recently, CPRS partnered with MCAN and the Journal of College Access.  This exciting new partnership provides a mechanism and opportunity to encourage the publication and dissemination of rigorous postsecondary research that will impact counseling and advising practices across the country. Through the elevation of parent and student voices, coupled with the publication of rigorous research, we look forward to working with MCAN to illuminate the counseling and advising practices necessary to create the systems needed to insure equitable postsecondary opportunities for all.

Everyone is invited to submit to the Journal.  Click here for more information on submission types.  Submissions are accepted every day of the year.

Author: Laura Owen
Posted: October 29, 2019

Hometown Advantage: An Adviser’s Reflection

AdviseMI is an initiative of the Michigan College Access Network that works with AmeriCorps to place recent college graduates in Michigan high schools with low college-going rates. The advisers are trained to help students navigate the complex college exploration process, retake college admissions tests, apply to colleges that are a good match/fit, complete the FAFSA, secure financial aid, and matriculate to college.

Jacquelynn Deneau is a second-year adviser who serves at Addison High School.

Two years ago, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Social Work and was faced with deciding my next steps. As I sat to reflect on what direction I wanted to point myself, I felt a strong desire to go back to my rural roots and return home to serve with AdviseMI. My first year as a College Adviser offered me the opportunity to work in a local community while building a strong knowledge of advising students in their path to postsecondary attainment. I am now in my second year of service, and I am back in my hometown walking familiar halls as the school’s first College Adviser.  

As College Advisers, we hit the ground running every year. Many schools do not start until after Labor Day, giving us just three weeks to plan one of our biggest events of the year, Michigan College Month. This is an exciting time for high school seniors as they plan their futures. We plan events and meet with students to talk about college applications, college affordability, the SAT, their future career paths, and their educational journey. October is really the kick-off that helps to set the tone for the year. 

As a hometown College Adviser, I felt I had home-field advantage and it made a major difference in my planning process. I already knew I had support from staff and the community and had an idea of who I could lean on as college access champions. While some days I still wish there were three more of me, having community members volunteer has been an asset in planning that has allowed me to expand my efforts. Whether it’s assisting with an event or chaperoning a field trip, the volunteerism of community members is priceless in engaging students. There are also times when I need to offer something to motivate students to attend in the first place, which typically comes in the form of food and prizes. Serving in a rural community means it can be challenging to find resources for incentives. However, the community is always there to pitch in when they can, and it only takes an email to get a few trays of brownies. One of the most engaging pieces to Michigan College Month for me is long-term career planning. This is where every student feels they can participate, even if they are not sure which route is the best fit for them. This requires support from community members who can talk to students about their college and career experiences, as well as opportunities to job shadow. I am in a great position to be able to spark these connections as a hometown College Adviser.

Of course, there were things that I worried about as I returned to the community in a position they have never worked with before. I have had to learn to shift from having a voice in the school as a former student to participating as a young professional. I also find myself spending more time looking for the new college and career access resources and learning of all of the exciting things that are happening in the area. I had to realize that, just like the students I work with now, I didn’t always pay attention to all that my community had to offer when I was a student. This proves to be especially prevalent with my students and Michigan College Month activities. I find myself working harder to advertise and incentivize to make sure that the students I work with are paying attention and don’t wonder why they didn’t know about resources later on.  

While it is still just the start of the year, I am excited to be back in my hometown and to see how I can serve students who are facing some of the same challenges myself and other community members faced in our own postsecondary planning. Michigan College Month has proved to me that myself and our students have a community dedicated to the success of graduates after high school, and I am excited to continue supporting these connections within my community. 

Author: Jacquelynn Deneau
Posted: March 26, 2019


Empowered to Act at Maritime Academy 2019

Local College Access Networks  (LCANs) are community-based college access alliances supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, the nonprofit sector, government, business and philanthropy. These networks are committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing college readiness, participation and completion rates within their community. Each year, individuals working in an LCAN attend Maritime Academy, where they undergo a rigorous, three-day comprehensive training in order to strengthen their college access strategy. 

Peter Haines is a member of the Ottawa County College Access Network, serves as the Superintendent of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, and attended Advanced Maritime Academy. 

In the pursuit of increasing the quality of life for our communities, we recognize the importance of key metrics identified by the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) that are also supported by a wealth of economic and social research.  Using a Collective Impact approach to analyzing the relevant data associated with these metrics, through the eyes of a diverse group of stakeholders can be a daunting challenge. The work is complicated, but if navigated effectively through a Collective Impact method, it leads to a much richer appreciation for the most significant factors which determine the quality of life of our communities.

For many years, Local College Access Network (LCAN) efforts have been regionalized around the greater Ottawa county area, which is one of the most economically active and densely populated areas in Michigan.   The economy has been strong, even at times when other parts of the state have struggled. This has only amplified our need to meet the talent demands of our employers while assuring lifetime opportunities are never traded away for immediate rewards. Lifelong learning is the key to prosperity at the individual and family-unit level. The tension we realize between exposing our students to immediate career opportunities and positioning them for a pathway of credential attainment puts us in the middle of today’s urgent demands and tomorrow’s possibilities.

Thankfully, the Maritime Academy developed and facilitated by MCAN allowed for a full team from the Ottawa area to come for an intense and thoughtfully designed dive into not just the process, but the logic of constructing our own region-wide network. The theme makes sense, as so much of the work requires stepping away from some traditionally-kept practices and understandings, and venturing into ‘uncharted waters’. We were especially thankful for the knowledge and expertise of the MCAN staff, and their commitment to support the work that must be done uniquely in each network. We were equally encouraged by the leaders MCAN assembled to pursue our most ambitious improvement targets, with relevant outcome measures that stand the scrutiny of our stakeholders.

Upon returning from the Maritime Academy, we have already found applications for the content and methods cultivated that week. Members of our LCAN team are using the vocabulary and expanding our own network of stakeholders. Conversations in many groups often turn to the shared interests that might best be addressed in a coalition approach, through our LCAN. Diverse constituents are focusing on the metrics we are able to explain in much greater detail. The energy is truly encouraging and inspiring!

While this energy is encouraging and inspiring, one of the most important learnings from the Maritime Academy had to do with a very fundamental concept - what the role and position our LCAN needs to play across the community. The members of both our LCAN leadership and action teams care deeply about the educational success of individuals across our community.  It is exactly because of this deep care and desire to help our community that we often fall prey to “solutionitis,” that eternal search for the next program or intervention to fix the problem. The Maritime Academy was a much-needed reminder that our LCAN must rise above developing new programs and interventions and operate at the systems level.  It is only through this level of focus that we will truly be able to change credential attainment outcomes for all individuals across our community.

We look forward to the continued support from MCAN as we grow our own capacity to meet the needs in our learning community!

Author: Peter Haines
Posted: September 27, 2019

Representing Maritime

Local College Access Networks  (LCANs) are community-based college access alliances supported by a team of community and education leaders representing K-12, higher education, the nonprofit sector, government, business and philanthropy. These networks are committed to building a college-going culture and dramatically increasing college readiness, participation and completion rates within their community. Each year, individuals working in an LCAN attend Maritime Academy, where they undergo a rigorous, three-day comprehensive training in order to strengthen their college access strategy. 

State Representative Sheryl Y. Kennedy serves District 48 and is a member of the Genesee County College Access Network and attended Advanced Maritime Academy. 

I’m a former teacher and school administrator, Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Michigan State Representative, and now a proud member of my local LCAN, the Genesee County College Access Network.  As a new member, I recently had the privilege to participate in the Maritime Academy training provided by the Michigan College Access Network.

I had already attended a few meetings of my local LCAN before officially coming on board, making it refreshing to confirm that we are on the right track for making real change when it comes to getting our students to college.  As a new organization, we’re continuing the process of getting fully up to speed. We have just finished our asset map (although this is a fluid document) and we are looking at where the barriers to education lie in our county. 

I am thankful to have the opportunity to work together with other like-minded leaders to find solutions. I am also grateful that in Genesee County our Intermediate School District is our anchor, so many of the organizational systems are already set.

It was interesting listening to the other groups talk about what they are finding as a result of their research into the same major questions we face throughout the state: How do we get students to sign up for college in the first place? How do we keep them there once they show up in the fall?

What I found most interesting from listening to the others in the group is that many of us are identifying the same underlying issues creating serious barriers to pursuing higher education: FAFSA completion.  As a State Representative, I can take that information and work on legislation to help overcome this persistent concern.  We know that in states like Tennessee, where free college is offered the first two years following high school, FAFSA completion skyrockets.  This not only gets to the heart of MCAN’s mission, but results in a more educated citizenry.  In Michigan, this proposed legislation is called the “MI Opportunity Initiative.”  This will allow eligible high school students who receive a B average grade or higher to have their community college tuition covered if they complete the FAFSA.

I am working hard to get bipartisan support for this initiative; and in the meantime, I’m working within my GCAN to make sure all stakeholders are represented and heard.  I appreciate the training I received at Maritime Academy and look forward to continued growth and support of all Michigan students.

Author: Michigan State Representative Sheryl Y. Kennedy
District 48
Posted: September 17, 2019


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