Edythe Copeland, CEO, CAMW!, Joins Chris Holman in studio to talk about Michigan College Month.
Michigan College Month is a part of the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) and is organized by the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). MCAN aims to increase college readiness, participation and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color.
Hear Edee discuss Michigan College Month with Chris in the PodCast shared below.
Michigan College Month also helps emphasize the relationship between applying to and paying for college, and it helps break down some of the most complex and commonly cited barriers to attending college.
High schools across the state can be host sites for Michigan College Month. These host sites set a goal to have 100% of their seniors complete a college application, provide dedicated space, time and support for students to complete college applications during the school day in the school building, engage underclassmen in thinking about the steps to college before their senior year and help students begin their FAFSA.
College is any type of post-secondary education or formal training beyond high school. It includes education at traditional universities, technical school programs, community colleges and more. In Michigan, we’re fortunate to have a diverse array of post-secondary education institutions and opportunities, ranging from certificate-granting programs and associate degrees at technical and community colleges to doctoral programs at prestigious universities. College isn’t elitist and it doesn’t have to mean attending a conventional four-year university. College is inclusive and it’s for everyone.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s statewide post-secondary education goal is for 60% of Michigan residents to complete a post-secondary certificate or degree by 2030. CAMW! is committed to partnering with job seekers to enhance education and career opportunities. There is a growing talent shortage in the state’s workforce and encouraging post-secondary education is one of the most effective ways to address it. The correlation between state income and education levels is strong. Michigan ranks 36th for post-secondary educational attainment and 34th for household income. By encouraging and assisting students with the application process for higher education, we can increase the educational attainment levels, which in turn will benefit Michigan’s economy by providing more skilled workers and increasing household income.
Applying to college is the first step to attending college. It can be difficult for students to take that first step, so Michigan College Month provides resources for schools to encourage and support their students throughout the process. MCAN believes post-secondary education is a prerequisite to success in a knowledge-based economy. In other words, to advance in our current society and economy, some sort of education or training after high school is necessary. According to Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, two-thirds of all jobs created in this decade will require some form of post-secondary education. By 2020, 70% of the jobs in Michigan will require formal post-secondary education (Capital Area College Access Network https://www.micauw.org/can/who-we-are). We want our future workforce to be prepared for the positions they want, and that starts with applying to college.
One of the most significant benefits to attending college is the financial gain. The financial benefit of attending college varies depending on a range of factors, but the Pew Research Center estimates a typical student who graduates from an in-state, four-year public university earns a total of about $550,000 more in their lifetime than someone who only has a high school diploma. Students who attend college also have a better chance of being employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2018 unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree or higher was 2.2%, while those who earned an associate degree or went to college but did not graduate had a rate of 3.2%. The rate jumped to 4% for people with only a high school diploma.
In addition to the financial and employment benefits, college helps students develop their own belief systems and personal identity. Pew Research Center reports 62% of college graduates conveyed that they felt college was very useful in helping them grow personally and intellectually.
One of the most common barriers for students is a lack of support throughout the application process. Local organizations such as the Capital Area College Access Network (CapCAN) aim to provide support. CapCAN helps completion of post-secondary education become an achievable reality for all residents through their work with students in Ingham and Eaton counties. CapCAN works to create a college-going culture through their partnerships with representatives from education, higher education, business, nonprofit, philanthropy and government stakeholders. This wide network allows CapCAN to connect students to people and resources who can help with readiness, participation and completion of post-secondary education. Another local program that helps support students during the college application process is the Lansing Promise. The Lansing Promise is a scholarship program that offers tuition assistance for post-secondary education to all eligible high school graduates within the Lansing School District boundaries. By providing tuition assistance, the Lansing Promise supports students through taking away some of the financial burden.
Another common barrier is the lack of incentive and knowledge. Students may not realize how important it is to have some sort of post-secondary education in order to succeed in today’s economy. They also may not know about the different educational opportunities available that don’t follow the traditional university route. MiCareerQuest Capital Area is a hands-on, experiential event that educates students on the possibilities for their futures coordinated by T3 and CAMW!. It’s an employer-driven, student-focused event that focuses on new economy industries as opposed to individual employers or organizations. Students are able to explore careers and get the chance to interact with professionals who work in the Capital Area. By educating students about the importance of post-secondary education and providing them with resources to learn more about the wide range of careers that exist, Michigan College Month emphasizes the options students have for their educational future.