Michigan's College Access Blog

Top 10 Reasons to Attend the MCAN Conference

The Michigan College Access Network annual conference is just around the corner and we encourage you to register now! The conference is scheduled for March 8-9 and the theme is “College Changes Everything,” because we know postsecondary education makes a significant impact in our communities and in our personal lives. Need more reasons to register? Check out our top ten reasons below:

#1: Awards

This year, there are seven categories of awards to recognize the great work in Michigan to improve postsecondary attainment. These categories include: creating college access talent, developing sustainable networks, advocating for attainment, strengthening success through partnerships, rallying communities to impact, providing comprehensive programming and supporting students, counselors and schools.

#2 Flexible package options and expansion to two days

The MCAN conference has been expanded to two days and includes flexible package options. An attendee can choose a package with the pre-conference, conference and awards dinner or just conference and the awards dinner. There’s also an option for just the awards dinner.

#3 Breakout sessions!

The conference boasts 35 breakout sessions between five session blocks, providing attendees with a great variety. The breakout session tracks include:

  • LCAN development
  • School-level interventions
  • Strengthening school counseling and college advising
  • K-12 and higher education partnerships
  • Closing the gap: working with a lens for equity
  • College affordability
  • Collaborative strategic planning: strengthening partnerships between college advisers and site supervisors
  • LCAN coordinators only: network facilitation
  • Promise Zone coordinators only: coordinators convening
  • Reach Higher grantees only: reach higher high school workshop
  • United for change: the role of United Way in their LCAN
  • Reaching for opportunity: regional policy planning workshop (invite only)
#4 College Changes Everything

The theme, “College Changes Everything,” speaks to us all and we want to hear how college changed everything for you. Personal stories can be the strongest driver of that message to motivate our attendees as they work to ensure all students have access to and succeed in college. Network with fellow conference attendees and hear how college changed everything for your college access and success colleagues.

#5 Pre-conference opportunities

This year’s pre-conference includes five workshops to choose from:

#6 Affordability

Though it’s hard to put a price tag on the real value of our annual conference, our conference packages are extremely affordable thanks to our generous sponsors. Our two-day conference package is just $175 and includes a pre-conference session, reception, awards dinner, five breakout session blocks, and all meals over the course of the event.

#7 Solid Keynotes

Keynote speakers this year are Dr. Damon F. Arnold who is a consultant, author and motivational speaker; Dr. James T. Minor who was appointed by the Obama administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education; and John Bebow who is the president and CEO of the Center for Michigan. Our speakers will share their personal journeys and share insights on the current college-going culture in our state and country.

#8 Networking opportunity

Mingle with 400 of your closest friends—all united with the same passion to create a college-going culture and reach our goal of increasing college attainment in Michigan to 60 percent by 2025.

#9 Explore Lansing

Our conference takes place in downtown Lansing, where you can explore restaurants, shops and even experience a bit of nature along the River Walk Trail. The capital city boasts fun places to explore like the Lansing City Market, museums, the Capitol and a short drive to shopping areas like Old Town, downtown East Lansing and Eastwood Towne Center.

#10 Making it easy and fun with a mobile app

It’s easy to lose printed programs, so download this mobile app to have the conference details at your finger tips now and during the conference.

Registration closes February 29. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity!


Jamie Jacobs headshot 2013Author: Jamie Jacobs, director of capacity building
Posted: February 16, 2016

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

Michigan College Access Network | 200 N Washington Square, Suite 210, Lansing, MI 48933 (map) | (517) 316-1713 Contact Us | Site Map | Terms and Privacy