Michigan's College Access Blog

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 

Counseling should focus on college AND career opportunities

This blog is written by State Representative Brett Roberts. Roberts is serving his second term representing Michigan’s 65th House District. He is a sixth-generation farmer, and is a lifelong resident of Charlotte in Eaton County.

The state Department of Education sets a requirement that all school counselors have 150 hours of professional development over the course of five years to remain certified to work with K-12 students. That’s a strong standard, but it’s not specific enough.

With the expansion of career opportunities in Michigan, education needs to be more diversified and step away from the “one size fits all” concept it has become over the past 30 years. That’s why I authored legislation to update the professional development guidelines, stipulating 25 of the 150 hours be dedicated to career and technical education (like skilled trades) and 25 hours for college preparation.

In early November, Gov. Rick Snyder agreed with the legislation and signed it into law.

The path from introduction of the bill to the governor’s signature illustrated the importance of counselors being exposed to more career platforms. Parents and students look to these education professionals for insight and direction for what to do after high school, such as suggesting colleges or the educational guidelines for a specific career. But what if the student shows an interest and ability in a career that doesn’t require college?

Too often, counselors may not know where to go from there. In fact, during testimony before a House committee, the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling noted that many high school counselors felt unprepared to advise students in career and college selection. Many students and parents surveyed felt that they are receiving inadequate help and planning from their high school guidance professionals. 

Counselors face challenges because the changing local job market, along with the evolving college selection and financial aid process, makes it difficult for them to stay current and informed. We cannot accept that reality. Instead, we should seek to update the standards to help counselors diversify their education to become more knowledgeable about the opportunities for students.

Kids who are preparing for the professional world need to know that there are plenty of different options available to them. There are thousands of career opportunities in Michigan’s skilled trade industries. These careers pay well and allow recent graduates to kickstart their professional lives right out of high school. This law will give students better knowledge to take advantage of opportunities like these.

Colleges are no different, and now 15 state-funded institutions provide their own programs to match interest with demand.

From the beginning, Michigan College Access Network supported this legislation because giving students more options for life after high school will give them a better chance to succeed. When counselors know more about different postgraduate opportunities, then students and families will know more as well. Success in life is more about multiple choices available to us in Michigan, not one size fits all.


Author: Michigan State Representative Brett Roberts
Posted: Dec. 13, 2017

Now is the time for Michigan high school seniors to pursue college dreams

State Superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education Brian Whiston recently provided guest commentary to Bridge Magazine supporting Michigan College Month. The following is an excerpt from his piece. To read the full op-ed, please visit Bridge Magazine.

Gov. Rick Snyder declared October “Michigan College Month” and I’m proud to support the governor and other education organizations’ efforts to increase postsecondary education in Michigan.

Getting students focused on a path that excites and inspires them will help prepare them for postsecondary success and a fulfilling career. Our goal to have Michigan become a Top 10 education state in 10 years will assist our students in this effort and drive a prosperous Michigan now and into the future.

Michigan College Month aims to help ease the stress of the college application process by dedicating time and resources to ensure all high school seniors have submitted at least one college application, applied for at least one scholarship and have filed the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Special efforts are being made to reach out to low-income students and to students who would be the first in their family to attend college.

Last year, the Governor appointed two powerful commissions, comprised of experts in their respective fields. These leaders spent months examining data to better understand the education and economic needs of Michigan in the years to come.  The result of these commissions was the 21st Century Education Commission and 21st Century Economic Commission reports.

The biggest takeaway from each report?...Continue Reading


Posted: Oct. 23, 2017

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