A sobering statistic: Georgia’s counselor to student ratio is 1 to 466, which means each student can expect about 38 minutes of counseling per year. For many high school students, especially first-generation students, this isn’t enough time to support them through the college-going process.
There are, however, strategies that are dramatically improving students’ odds of attaining a post-secondary degree. Here are some of the bright spot strategies our Post-Secondary Network has learned about and supported in the last two years.
Challenge: The FAFSA is the gateway to a significant portion of financial aid. Unfortunately, submission rates for the FAFSA have remained stubbornly low —the median completion rate Metro Atlanta is 49 percent, and students who don’t submit the form leave up to $2.6 billion financial aid, nationally, on the table.
- Help students complete their FAFSA forms by sharing resources such as the Financial Aid Toolkit.
- The Scholarship Academy helps students build full financial plans by teaching them how to negotiate their financial aid packages, manage their financial awards, create scholarship brag projects, and independently navigate the private scholarship market.
Challenge: Because student-to-school counselor ratios are too high for adequate student support throughout the post-secondary exploration and readiness process, schools often do not have the capacity to collect, manage, or analyze the student factors that predict post-secondary success.
- Encourage students to take a rigorous (AP, IB, dual-enrollment) college and career-ready curriculum aligned to USG admission criteria.
- OneGoal offers a credit-bearing high school course with a teacher who mentors students through their freshman year of college, ensuring students receive the support they need to graduate from college.
Challenges: Too few students take (and retake) college admissions exams, and low-income students are too often undermatched or do not attend college at all.
- Ensure that low-income students know that the ACT and SAT tests offer fee waivers.
- Guide students and families to tools and resources, like College Scorecard or College Results Online, that can help them make well informed decisions about their best “match.”
- College Advising Corps places well-trained, recent college graduates as full-time college advisers in high schools, where they deliver personalized, knowledgeable guidance on college admission, financial aid, and enrollment.