As a new school year launches, Learn4Life asked its three Post-Secondary Success Network Bright Spot Organizations what excites them about their work this year.
L4L: How are you engaging parents in the college application process?
Yarbrah Peeples, College Advising Corps:
“As we begin the upcoming school year, the University of Georgia and Georgia State University College Advising Corps chapters are excited to continue the Parent Academy text messaging initiative in our high schools. This initiative has allowed CAC college advisers to increase parent engagement and has provided pertinent college application and financial aid information to the parents and guardians of students throughout their senior year. Parents receive scripted texts reminding them of testing dates, application deadlines, scholarships, and college access events. College advisers can also answer questions and tailor specific communications to individual parents or groups.
The Parent Academy initiative has not only increased parental engagement, but also has increased parental comfort and understanding, which leads to increases in key college access indicators and outcomes. Parents ask questions, get answers they need, and are better able to support their students as they prepare for their futures. The success of this initiative in the Atlanta metro area has prompted several other College Advising Corps chapters to pilot or implement this initiative in the upcoming school year, also!”
L4L: How do you reach students through technology?
Jessica Johnson, The Scholarship Academy:
“This school year, The Scholarship Academy is excited about the launch of our Virtual Scholarship Center, an online scholarship planning platform that connects students, parents, and college access professionals to 4-year college funding pipelines. The system offers comprehensive evaluation tools to manage student scholarship portfolios, match students to appropriate opportunities, and provide one-on-one virtual application completion supports.
The Scholarship Academy will customize this tool with county-specific financial aid resources for each of our partner sites. The platform is designed to serve as a financial aid tracking tool for high schools and nonprofit organizations, with The Scholarship Academy’s customizable scholarship search engine tool. Our program goal for The Virtual Scholarship Center is to provide access to the tool to more than 20,000 Georgia students by December 2020, increasing their access to local and state-based college funding resources and enhancing positive financial aid planning behaviors.”
L4L: How does OneGoal help to close the equity gap in post-secondary attainment?
Brooke Flowers, OneGoal:
“Today, only 22% of 10th graders growing up in the bottom economic quartile complete a postsecondary degree (bachelor’s and/or associate) compared to 67% of students growing up in the highest economic quartile. In the state of Georgia, the average overall post-secondary completion rate is 27% – projections are even lower for those from the lowest economic quartile in the state. The divide has remained almost unchanged in the past several decades, at exactly the time when postsecondary credentials have become more essential to access economic opportunity and the middle class (in the state of Georgia, by 2025 60% of jobs will require a postsecondary degree or credential). As a result, hundreds of thousands of young people transition to adulthood without the requisite skills and credentials needed to compete.
To understand and solve this national and statewide crisis, we need not look further than the postsecondary transition. Every year, nearly 1 million ninth graders from low-income households show up to high school, but fewer than 200,000 will earn a degree a decade later. The vast majority of those young people are pushed out or drop out of the system during the transition—in the final years of high school and the first year of college. To address this challenge, OneGoal recruits and selects high-performing teachers, who are already working in high schools in low-income communities, and provides them with the content curriculum, training and coaching, and technology required to implement our three-year college success model with a cohort of Fellows (25-30 students), beginning junior year of high school and continuing through the first day of sophomore year of college.”