Michigan's College Access Blog

Celebrating our School Counselors

The first full week of February brings us closer to spring sunshine, and also celebrates an important effort – National School Counseling Week. Sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve academic success and plan for a postsecondary education.   

I heart my school counselor picmonkeyed

Over the past few years, MCAN has dedicated a great deal of its energy to providing support to school counselors across the state. As the leader of our professional development strategies, I have gotten to know hundreds of Michigan’s school counselors who are working tirelessly to ensure students receive the support and guidance they need to succeed after high school.  

In honor of National School Counseling Week, MCAN partnered with the Michigan Association for Secondary School Principals and the Michigan Association for College Admissions Counseling to co-host a summit for school administrator and school counselor teams. The summit, “Reaching Higher: Creating a College Going High School,” happens to be today and will bring together more than 100 teams from schools across the state of Michigan. Note: Due to inclement weather, the February 2nd summit has been cancelled. See below for additional information. These teams are committed to building stronger relationships, partnerships, and strategies to ensure Michigan’s students receive the highest quality educational experiences that can be provided.  

You’ve likely heard me say it before (but it is worth repeating), at MCAN, we believe school counselors are well poised to lead the charge in ensuring students are socially, academically, logistically and financially prepared for postsecondary education. School counselors are uniquely positioned to change the postsecondary education trajectories for all students. In order for counselors to effectively lead the college access movement in their buildings, however, they must have the capacity, administrative support, and formal preparation in college counseling. The summit is our next step in supporting the role of school counselors in this movement.

Who was your school counselor? What impact did he or she have on your school experience and your life? Have you ever told that person? National School Counseling Week would be a great time to track down that ol’ school counselor of yours, and send them a quick note of appreciation.  

School counselors, we salute you!

Looking for more ways to celebrate National School Counselor Week? Check out these ASCA resources.

Due to hazardous weather conditions, the College Going Culture Conference scheduled for Monday, February 2nd is cancelled. MASSP, MCAN and MACAC are disappointed to cancel the conference, but agree that the safety of our participants and speakers is paramount. Please look for further communication regarding possible rescheduling of the event and/or refund information. Thank you and please be safe!


Jamie Jacobs headshot 2013

Author: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development for the Michigan College Access Network




Posted: February 2, 2015 

Introducing the Journal of College Access

Originally published in the Journal of College Access, January 2015, and adapted with permission of the authors.

The Journal of College Access focuses on current trends, research, practices, and development of all types of programs, policies, and activities related to the access of, and success in postsecondary education. Issues of college aspiration, qualification, application, enrollment, and persistence are the primary emphases.

Introduction by the Co-Editors

Launching a new academic journal, especially one focused on college access, is a dream come true! This inaugural issue features three scholarly pieces: college and career readiness counseling training; students with intellectual disabilities; and summer support. These all are critical topics in the field of college access. We are also excited to provide guest perspectives from Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie P. Merisotis, and to showcase the voice of expert Mandy Savitz-Romer, Ph.D. of Harvard University.

Featured Articles

Advisor and Student Experiences of Summer Support for College-Intending, Low-Income High School Graduates
This piece provides important insights into “summer melt,” the phenomenon that occurs when college-bound high school graduates do not follow through on the summer activities needed to attend college in the fall. New programs suggest there are ways to reduce summer melt; this article offers excellent insights into their efficacy.

The Importance and Implementation of Eight Components of College and Career Readiness Counseling in School Counselor Education Programs
Many advocates of college access work with the eight-part framework established by the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy, but are counselor educators familiar with it—and how much value do they place on each component? This study begins to address this important question, and the implications for pre-service counselor training.

Increasing Access to Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
College access is often limited to the construct of expanding opportunities to low-income students and students of color. This article identifies efforts to broaden college access to students who were once considered beyond the reach of college opportunities based on intellectual disability, a vital dimension of the college access movement that is often overlooked.

We acknowledge the support of JCA Launchthe Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network, the publishing service bepress, and Maira Bundza of Western Michigan University in helping us launch the journal and this first issue! In addition, special thanks to Fareed Shalhout and Alex Susienka who proofread the final version before we published.

We hope you enjoy reading the Journal of College Access as much as we enjoyed developing the first issue!

Pictured left to right:  ScholarWorks Librarian Maira Bundza; Co-Editor Christopher Tremblay; and Michigan College Access Network Executive Director Brandy Johnson


PatrickDr. Patrick O’Connor, associate dean for college counseling at Kingswood Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, MI and board member for the Michigan College Access Network.



Christopher 1 425x640Dr. Christopher W. Tremblay, associate provost for enrollment management at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI and active member of the College and Career Action Network in Kalamazoo and Michigan College Access Network.



Posted: January 28, 2015

How to Prioritize Communication Planning

LCAN Spotlight: Jackson County Cradle 2 Career Network

Through MCAN's blog and LCAN Spotlights, we've stressed the importance of communication. However, as many of you may 
In today's LCAN Spotlight we look to Jackson County Cradle 2 Career Network. While the C2C Network has had a strong network in place for some time, the leadership team recognized the need for a communications strategy while it was preparing to re-brand the network as Cradle 2 Career. find, it can be hard to prioritize the time to plan a communications strategy.

There are a number of ways an LCAN can tackle the development and execution of a communications plan, and they don't require hiring a full-time communications director.

“The reality was as network coordinator, I did not have the time or strong skill set to manage a communications strategy,” said Irene LeCrone, Jackson County C2C network coordinator. “The leadership team got creative and leveraged existing community resources to get the job done.”  

First, a consultant hired by United Way was utilized to draft the plan. Next, the Intermediate School District committed to providing time from their communications staff to help execute the strategy. Initially, the ISD committed 20 hours per week of their communications coordinator’s time to support the C2C Network. Once the plan was established and moving forward, the allotted time dropped to 5 hours per week.

Utilizing ISD Communications Coordinator Kim Medlock’s expertise was truly a win for the network and the ISD. At the time, Kim was new to her role at the ISD so it provided solid training ground for her to get to know the community and educational partners outside of the school district. Kim now serves on the C2C Community Engagement Team, ensuring the LCAN has a strong brand and voice.

“This level of involvement and creativity from the leadership team members was crucial,” said Irene. “We encourage other LCAN leadership teams to consider what talent and resources you have internally that can better support your growing network to improve college access and success.”

To learn more about Jackson County Cradle 2 Career, click here

Lisa KingAuthor: Lisa King, public relations consultant for Michigan College Access Network

Posted: January 21, 2015

Michigan makes the switch to the SAT

Recently the Michigan Department of Education announced that all public schools will offer the SAT rather than the ACT as a free college admissions test starting in 2016. Michigan has long been an "ACT only" state, which is why the recent announcement took many by surprise. Some school officials aren't looking forward to administering a new test, and many of our Local College Access Networks are wondering what this means for longitudinal student data. Although ACT has issued a formal protest against MDE and the Department of Technology, Management & Budget's decision, we must prepare for change and embrace the additional benefits the switch will bring to students.

According to department officials and education reforms experts, the switch to the SAT should be fairly painless for students. The SAT will be offered free of charge to all juniors and may better measure what students are learning from their classwork.

While the switch may seem daunting to school administers, school counselors, and community leaders, resources and support from The College Board should help soften the transition. The College Board has a number of helpful resources, campaigns and fee waiver programs, including some specifically targeted at low-income students and students of color.

Among their resources are free sample SAT questions, full SAT practice tests, a SAT online course and an official SAT study guide. Access to Opportunity is an initiative designed to identify and break down barriers preventing low-income, first generation and underrepresented minority students from accessing college. Additionally, low-income students can qualify for test fee waivers, college application fee waivers, and to receive college preparation paperwork. The College Board also dedicates a portion its website to education professionals, providing them with the tools they need to become proficient in test coordinating. These resources will allow school administrators to become familiar with the redesigned SAT and help them create curriculum that will prepare their students for the test.

And let us not forget Michigan eLibrary's LearningExpress has the SAT and the ACT WorkKeys covered! Students can utilize the free LearningExpress Library College Prep Center to take practice tests in preparation for all sections of the SAT test.


Many LCANs use ACT readiness scores to track the academic readiness of students in their community. As the SAT transition happens next year, MCAN will help coach these networks on how to manage the data transition.

MCAN also scheduled a webinar today, January 20, with Kahn Academy, a free online learning resource for students and educators. The College Board has recently partnered with Khan Academy to provide free SAT preparation materials to all students starting in 2015. Khan Academy will all be doing a major updated release of the SAT prep resources available this spring. It's not too late to register for the webinar!

The DTMB's decision to switch to the SAT is a reminder that the college-going process is forever changing. With the proper resources and tools our community leaders can prepare our students to successfully navigate the SAT. The added benefits for students will make the extra effort required by community leaders well worth it.

Jamie Jacobs headshot 2013Author: Jamie Jacobs, director of professional development for the Michigan College Access Network

Posted: January 20, 2015

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