Michigan's College Access Blog

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

Reaching for Opportunity

Earlier this week, MCAN, along with the Michigan Postsecondary Attainment Workgroup - a coalition of K-12 and higher education groups, foundations, business leaders, the governor's office and legislators - participated in the release of a new report with crucial insight to boosting postsecondary credentials in Michigan to 60 percent by 2025. The report, Reaching for Opportunity: An Action Plan to Increase Michigan's Postsecondary Credential Attainment, outlines the challenges and opportunities along with recommendations for strategic actions and policies to increase credential attainment, necessary to succeed in Michigan's growing economy.

Reaching for Opp press conf

MCAN joined John Austin, State Board President who emceed the press conference, along with: Dan Phelan, president of Jackson College, Daniel Hurley, CEO, Michigan Association of State Universities, Robert Lefevre, President, Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities, Dan DeGrow, chair of Michigan College Access Network, Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, Representative Sam Singh and Tim Sowton, with Business Leaders for Michigan.

Michigan needs 779,000 more citizens with education beyond high school by 2025 to meet the needs of state employers, according to the new report that includes a detailed action plan to achieve the goal of boosting the number of employees with postsecondary credentials. This includes college degrees, graduate degrees and technical certificates and we need to grow this from 46 percent today to 60 percent by 2025. Michigan can't compete unless its residents are ready for today's knowledge-based jobs.


The report lays out a series of challenges that must be overcome to achieve its goals – and solutions to those challenges. Among them:

  • Because too many students are receiving inadequate advice during high school and college, the report proposes increasing the number of school counselors and college advisers while also providing them high-quality professional development.
  • Because Michigan students are less likely to obtain college credits while in high school than the national average (just 11 percent), the report calls for high schools and higher education institutions to adjust the policies and increase financial incentives to boost that number.
  • Because many low-income and minority students fail to complete their credential due to financial difficulties, the report calls for an increase in state-provided need-based financial aid.
  • Because we need to help more students move from community colleges to four year universities and colleges, the report calls for additional work to streamline credit transfer.

You can learn more at www.mitalentgoal2025.org

Brandy Johnson headshot 2013Author: Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director
Posted: Dec. 2, 2015

Supporting School Counselors through Evidence-Based Practices

Materials photoMCAN, along with several state partners, recently participated in the third Reach Higher convening hosted by the White House. It has been exciting to participate in the three convenings to see the growth of not only the Reach Higher initiative at a national level, but also the growth at the state level over time. MCAN worked alongside representatives from Central Michigan University's School Counseling Program, Kent Intermediate School District, Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan School Counselor Association, Michigan State Board of Education, and Western Michigan University's School Counseling Program to talk about how Michigan organizations can better work together together. The Michigan collaborative is working to set priorities and implement evidence-based practices that support school counselors and college access professionals in helping all students prepare for and pursue education beyond high school.

In addition to team planning time, the convening included a great group of national and statewide leaders in this work. The event highlighted national speakers Eric Waldo, executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative; Joe Garcia, lieutenant governor of Colorado; Danette Gerald Howard, vice president for policy and mobilization at Lumina Foundatio; Johan E. Uvin, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education in the U. S. Department of Education; and Madeline M. Pumariega, chancellor of the Florida College System.

Michigan was asked to lead a breakout session focused on collaboration and mobilization. The session was led by John Austin from the State Board of Education, Patrick O'Connor from MACAC, and Jamie Jacobs from MCAN and focused on Michigan's collaboration and mobilization strategies to support the development of a state policy agenda, policy recommendations to support and strengthen school counseling and college advising, and the impact of creating collaborative structures and systems to drive policy changes to impact measurable student level outcomes.

First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative has been an inspiration to Michigan organizations and individuals working to support school counselors and college advisers as we work tirelessly to ensure all students are prepared for and pursue education after high school. The Michigan Reach Higher Collaborative has been formalized and is excited to release their strategic framework and priorities in early 2016. Keep an eye out for an update in the new year!

team photo

Authors: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development at MCAN, and Patrick O'Connor, MCAN board of directors and MACAC representative.
Posted: November 30, 2015

Top eight reasons why the Pell Grant is HUGE for Michigan

  1. Thankful4PellTwitterPell Grant funding is crucial to maintaining and raising the number of college graduates in Michigan.
  1. The use of the Pell grant has increased in recent years because more students and unemployed workers are going back to school to get the training they need for jobs in the new economy.
  2. Pell Grants have served as the cornerstone of college opportunity for our lowest income students and helping them graduate.
  3. In 2015, the Pell grant program provided more than 8 million students nationally with aid for higher education. 
  4. In 2013-14 more than 300,000 students attending college in Michigan received $1.03 billion in Pell Grants. 
  5. MCAN's 40 AdviseMI college advisers are helping students across Michigan gain access Pell Grants and understand the application process.
  6. Students need help financial now more than ever, in 1977 the Pell Grant used to cover 77 % of tuition, fees, room and board at a public four-year university or college, in 2010 it covered 33 %. 
  7. Filing the FAFSA is the ONLY WAY to access federal loans, federal Pell grants, most college-based grants, and many scholarships (including state scholarships like MI Competitive).

Join us in sharing why you are #Thankful4Pell, to help spread the word about this important grant!

Lisa King headshot 2013Author: Lisa King, MCAN communications consultant
Posted: Nov. 19, 2015

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