Hundreds of schools work to increase the number of students applying for college throughout October
Michigan College Month kicked off Oct. 1 with 339 high schools participating in events statewide. Michigan College Month is part of a larger, national initiative that encourages every graduating senior to submit at least one college application and complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of October.
High schools across Michigan will host concurrent college application and financial aid campaigns throughout the month. This is the fourth annual Michigan College Month, declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her predecessor. Michigan College Month is one of the three primary initiatives of the College Bound Michigan (CBMI) effort.
“The need for College Bound Michigan could not be clearer,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). “It’s hard to apply to and attend college, no matter how you look at it. From keeping track of forms and deadlines to figuring out how to transition from a high school to a college campus, students need help to make college a reality. CBMI brings together different components to help do just that. And Gov. Whitmer’s declaration of Michigan College Month brings even more focus, awareness and commitment to our goal of ensuring students are prepared for success.”
“This month is a great reminder to Michigan high school students to finalize the application process and plan for the next year of their lives,” Whitmer said. “Earlier this year, I set a goal to reach 60% of Michigan adults with a postsecondary degree or certification by 2030. When we encourage our students to apply for college and help them get on paths to afford a postsecondary education, we’re one step closer to reaching that goal. I’m proud to partner with the Michigan College Access Network to help get more Michigan students on paths to success.”
After modifying the initiative’s duration from one week to the entire month of October, the program structure has granted schools the flexibility to schedule resources based on their needs to best serve students and families. During the 2018 campaign, nearly 67,000 college applications were submitted by more than 38,000 high school seniors who participated in Michigan College Month events. From 2017 to 2018, the number of applications filed was up by more than 30%, and the number of high school seniors participating increased by nearly 6,000 — nearly 20%.
“Since we kicked off our efforts in 2011, we have continued to see the needle move to increase the number of students pursuing postsecondary education,” Fewins-Bliss said. “We will continue to grow our efforts to provide an educated and sustainable workforce for Michigan, and to make a difference in the lives of Michigan’s students.”
Michigan College Month allows students to focus on solidifying where and what they want to study, and submitting college applications. College Bound Michigan then transitions into the College Cash Campaign, and students work to complete the FAFSA, helping them secure scholarships, grants and additional aid opportunities. Finally, the focus moves to Decision Day in May, a time to celebrate students and their postsecondary education plans.
“Michigan College Month is just the start of a year-round continuum for success,” Fewins-Bliss said. “When all three components are brought together, students succeed. When that happens, Michigan succeeds. By 2020, 70% of the jobs in Michigan are going to require a postsecondary education, and we are committed to doing our part to make sure Michigan is ready.”
Hundreds of schools throughout the state will be designated Michigan College Month host sites, with activities to guide high school seniors through completing a college application or applying for financial aid. Many Michigan colleges also will collaborate with high schools to waive application fees or other financial barriers that may hold students back from pursuing education beyond high school.
Resources and materials will be provided to school counselors and educators by the Michigan College Access Network to guarantee schools are fully prepared to provide additional assistance to students over the coming months. In addition, schools will be dedicating classroom time to isolating the different parts of the application process so seniors have a clear, step-by-step understanding of how to determine what schools fit their individual needs.
“Navigating the college-going process can feel intimidating — especially for students who would be the first in their families to attend college,” Fewins-Bliss said. “We want every high school senior to believe they’re college material by supporting them as they weigh their options.”
ABOUT THE MICHIGAN COLLEGE ACCESS NETWORK (MCAN)
As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN has a mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, firstgeneration college-going students and students of color. For the eighth year in a row, Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate has increased — from 35.7% of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate degree in 2008, to 41% in 2018. Additionally, it is estimated another 4% of Michiganders have a high-quality certificate, bringing Michigan’s official attainment rate to 45% as of 2019. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60% by 2030. For more information, visit micollegeaccess.org.