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Making College Realistic: aREA SCHOOLS CELEBRATE cOLLEGE APPLICATION WEEK, OCT. 26-30

Campaign aims to boost michigan's post-secondary education rate, one application at a time

WHO: Six Kalamazoo County high schools, with the support of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo’s College and Career Action Network

WHAT: College Application Week, an annual fall event where school staff and volunteers work with seniors on site during the school day to ensure each student can submit at least one college application. The outreach focuses on students who would be the first in their families to attend college or who have financial constraints.

WHEN: Oct. 26-30, 2015

WHERE: Comstock High School, Galesburg-Augusta High School, Gull Lake High School, Kalamazoo Central High School, Parchment High School and Barclay Hills Education Center

KALAMAZOO, MICH. -- From fight song trivia to campus swag, six county high schools will be in college-promotion mode Oct. 26-30 for Michigan’s fifth annual College Application Week (CAW). Sponsored by the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), the campaign focuses on helping high school seniors navigate the college admissions process, with special emphasis on students who would be the first in their families to attend college or who have financial constraints.

Among the 300+ Michigan schools celebrating CAW are Comstock High School, Galesburg-Augusta High School, Gull Lake High School, Kalamazoo Central High School, Parchment High School and Barclay Hills Education Center (Parchment’s alternative high school).

Throughout the week, staff and volunteers at participating schools work with seniors on site during the school day to ensure each student submits at least one application. Many Michigan colleges reduce or waive application fees that week to make it even easier for students to apply.

Why the push to enroll? The stakes are clear: For our state to prosper, more Michiganders need to attain academic credentials beyond a high school diploma. A projected 65 percent of jobs by 2020 will require at least some college education, yet currently only 38.4 percent of Michigan residents over 25 have a college degree, according to MCAN. That’s below the national average of 40 percent. In response, MCAN has set a goal to raise Michigan’s post-secondary education attainment rate to 60% by the year 2025.

Locally, The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo’s College and Career Action Network (CACAN) wants to make sure lower-income families in our community are part of that progress. Their target is to increase post-secondary enrollment among Kalamazoo County’s low-income students  -- for community college, technical certification or a traditional four-year degree -- from 53.3% to 68.3% by 2020.

With that goal in mind, The Learning Network and CACAN proudly salute the six schools hosting CAW this year. “By participating in College Application Week, each of these schools is supporting a college-going culture at a critical point during senior year,” says Amy Slancik, Director of The Learning Network. “It’s also a great way to focus community-wide efforts around our shared goal of helping each student achieve success.”

Gull Lake High School is set to inspire seniors next week by offering on-site visits from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Kellogg Community College; a vocational/tech school and apprenticeship panel presentation, a Military Career Day with opportunities to sign up for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and raffle prizes.

Parchment plans to fire up students during CAW with a college fight song trivia contest each morning, an “I applied!” wall, goodie bags for applicants and one-on-one help with applications as well as scholarship and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) information. Teachers will post “Ask me about …” signs touting their alma maters, and staff and students will be encouraged to wear college/career apparel all week.

Parchment High School principal Scott Karaptian says last year’s CAW was such a hit that it  “trickled over to other buildings within the district. Even our elementary buildings got involved, having their students research and create posters of college and careers."

Gull Lake’s event also reaches beyond the high school. This is their third year hosting CAW and “we’re excited about the college-going buzz, chatter and activities that will be taking place at every grade level in our district,” says guidance counselor Bobbi Jo Stoner. “It's a way to make college seem realistic to all and to increase the conversations that expose students to their variety of post-secondary options.”

College Application Week originated in North Carolina as a pilot effort at a single high school in 2005. CAW is part of the American College Application Campaign, launched by the American Council on Education, a national effort to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students who pursue a post-secondary education. Today, American College Application Campaign programs take place in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Resources:

College and career planning: www.KnowHow2GoMichigan.org

College and Career Action Network: www.cacanonline.org

Michigan College Access Network: www.micollegeaccess.org

Video: Michigan College Application Week: Apply Yourself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5cb_c-rMJ4

About The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo

The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo brings community together to increase cradle-to-career educational success for everyone in Kalamazoo County. We track key education measures, facilitate action networks that drive educational readiness and adult learning, and rally resources and support for improved learning. Learn more and stay connected at www.thelearningnetwork.org.

About the College and Career Access Network (CACAN)

The College and Career Access Network’s mission is to dramatically increase college awareness and access among students in Kalamazoo County, with an emphasis on low-income and first generation college students. As an action network of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, CACAN works in partnership with representatives from all Kalamazoo County high schools and numerous community agencies to ensure services are available to help students access financial resources and get to the college of their choosing. Visit CACAN at www.cacanonline.org.