Michigan's College Access Blog

College Summit's PeerForward Program Increases College-Going Culture

From 2014 to 2015, Michigan's Hillsdale High School saw its FAFSA completion rates jump from 53 percent to 75 percent. How did they get such fantastic college access results? By leveraging the power of the students themselves to guide and motivate their friends to pursue college. Through a program called College Summit, eight Michigan high schools are building school-wide, college-going culture with teams of trained and motivated student leaders steering their classmates along the path to college.

College Summit’s PeerForward program helps identify and train a team of your own students to guide and motivate their classmates. The team of Peer Leaders, as the students are called, attends a summer workshop on a college campus. Team members are trained to execute three campaigns that are research-proven to increase college enrollment across the entire high school:

College Summit Building Capacity1
The PeerForward Model 
  1. Applying to three or more colleges,
  2. Completing FAFSA early, and
  3. Connecting life goals to college and career.

MCAN is committed to ensuring more of the state’s students get the opportunity to make an informed choice based on real postsecondary and career options. And College Summit can help.  To make it easier to participate, MCAN will provide $5,000 toward the total program cost for each of the first 10 schools that partner with College Summit for the ’16-’17 school year.

Wytrice Harris of Osborn Collegiate Academies is working with College Summit and has this to say about the program: “The students trained by College Summit have made such a difference in our school. Watching them work with the rest of the students – almost as surrogate counselors – has made me understand what a valuable resource I have. They have created a real culture of college-going.”

Interested schools should act quickly to take advantage of the significant discount offered by MCAN. If you are interested, please contact the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at College Summit, Sean Murray, by sending an email to smurray(a)collegesummit.org

For more information about College Summit’s PeerForward program, visit PeerForward.org, or download this summary document.


DSC 0006 800x800Author: Sean Murray, vice president of strategic partnerships, College Summit
Posted: Feb. 9, 2016


National School Counseling Week: Celebrating Our School Counselors

School counselors are a critical player in the college access movement in their school buildings and their communities. To celebrate National School Counseling Week, February 1-5, we asked our AdviseMI college advisers to tell us why they appreciate their school counselor and how the counselor has supported them in their new AdviseMI position. 


Check out the great things our AdviseMI advisers had to say. Help us celebrate the week and tell us why you appreciate your school counselor on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #NSCW16 and #ReachHigher.

I appreciate my school counselor(s) because...

  • "she comes to work motivated to empower change throughout the city of Detroit by igniting college readiness at VCP." – Aysha Boston, college adviser, Voyageur College Prep High School
  • "she juggles 100 different responsibilities every day! She loves her school and community with passion and dedication!" – Elyse Hogan, college adviser, Fennville High School and Saugatuck High School
  • "because she is always supportive and a fundamental component to my daily success." – Corey Lariscy, college adviser, Ecorse Community High School
  • "they always go above and beyond for the LPHS students. They are friendly and are the backbone of the positive school environment." – Lydia Miller, college adviser, Lincoln Park High School
  • "although I know things can sometimes be challenging, they make it so that no one would ever know. They are always joyous. The dedication placed into making sure that all students' needs are met, and the love and support they give to each one of them is nothing short of amazing." – Marcia Molett, college adviser, John Glenn High School
  • "they've taught me just how noble a profession within the realm of education can be." – Devon Perdue, college adviser, Oscar A. Carlson High School
  • "she allows me to expand my creativity and improve the lives of my students without limitations." – Ellise Smith, college adviser, Belleville High School
  • "they dedicate the majority of their lives to helping, advising, comforting, and advocating for them in many aspects of their lives." – Ericka Williams, college adviser, East Detroit High School


My school counselor(s) has/have helped me...

  • "develop in a leadership role through her resourcefulness and self-efficient mentality. My counselor is an enabler and has put me in numerous positions to take on responsibility while also creating initiatives for my own advancement." – Aysha Boston, college adviser, Voyageur College Prep High School
  • "transition seamlessly into a new environment and has provided me with endless support." – Angelina Coletti, college adviser, Melvindale High School
  • "assimilate to the school culture, explore future career options and make important contacts." – Elyse Hogan, college adviser, Fennville High School and Saugatuck High School
  • "work better with my students through the example she sets and has taught me how to navigate the professional setting that is a high school in an effective way." – Shelbe Klebs, college adviser, Maple Valley Jr/Sr High School
  • "find my role in my school. They have also helped me to explore the field of counseling." – Jon Lockwood, college adviser, Alpena High School
  • "become more confident in my leadership role as the college adviser. They have given me many opportunities to contribute to the college-going culture in whichever way I see best; the support is undeniable." – Marcia Molett, college adviser, John Glenn High School
  • "confirm my passion to help students be successful and prepared for life." – Jessica Rettig, college adviser, Montague High School
  • "grow professionally by sharing his insight on what it takes to help the students. My counselor has also helped me in connecting with students and giving me the knowledge and information I need to succeed." – Allen Seales, college adviser, Washtenaw Alliance for Virtual Education


BristolBristol Day, AdviseMI co-director



J.RuhlandJacque Ruhland, AdviseMI co-director




Posted: February 3, 2016

2015 in Review

Happy New Year! As we enter 2016, we can't help but look back on some of the exciting and new accomplishments that happened at MCAN in 2015. It was a year of growth with new staff members, new programs and new babies. We are excited to see what 2016 brings!

In 2015, the MCAN staff:
Watch for our annual report to be released in March where we will share more about our 2015 accomplishments. To everyone who has dedicated their time, energy and support, we at the Michigan College Access Network thank you.


Posted: January 6, 2016

Some Early Wins from 2015 College Application Week

CAW_I_applied_to.pngMCAN staff has been busy gathering data and wrapping up the final report from our fifth annual College Application Week. The report will be available early January, but we were so excited about some of the data and successes that we’ve seen so far, we wanted to share some highlights now! We couldn’t wait until January to talk about all of the amazing things our high schools have accomplished this year.

To name a few…

  • We have a record number of high schools following through with hosting CAW events and submitting data to us at the conclusion of the week. To date, 94 percent of participating high schools have sent data back to us. This is especially impressive given our record number of participating high schools – 330 this year! We know data can be tricky, so we really appreciate the effort and time schools have taken to get this important data back to us.
  • Every year, we see more and more schools with 100 percent of their graduating seniors applying to college by the conclusion of CAW. This year, 47 high schools accomplished this enormous win.
  • While we believe in the importance of CAW, and the huge impact of providing time and space during the school day to support students through applications – especially students who wouldn’t have otherwise applied – we also think it’s incredibly important for students to apply as soon as they’re ready. This means students should not wait until College Application Week to apply if they are ready beforehand. Right now, our data shows that 30,626 applications were completed prior to CAW.
  • Finally, we love to share the number of applications completed DURING College Application Week! This year, according to our current data, over 46,000 students submitted a college application during CAW.

So far, we’ve gotten great feedback from the week – the overwhelming majority of participating high schools agree or strongly agree that College Application Week helps promote a college-going culture in their building. Students responded positively to the sunglasses, and high schools continue to see the value of the week – especially now that it takes place in October.

Michigan CAW 2015

Despite the positive feedback, we’re already thinking about improvements for next year! We’ve heard loud and clear that schools are looking for more templates and examples of things that are already working well in high schools. This means we’ll be calling on veteran CAW sites to keep sharing their examples with us and with their peers across the state. Based on the success we’ve seen this year, we know schools have wonderful things to share!

Stay on the lookout for our final report, which will be released next month!

Christ Taylor headshot 2013Author: Christi Taylor, director of statewide initiatives
Posted: Dec. 16, 2015

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