2019 Annual Meeting Agenda

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Image of Philip Gardner

The Impact of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence on Job Skills and Career Readiness
Philip Gardner, Michigan State University

Wednesday, April 24

The rapid growth of artificial intelligence is completely changing today’s workplace. While numerous career fields are being eliminated and replaced by automated technology, other new jobs are being created, and almost all jobs will incorporate greater use of computers in some way. These changes are having a major impact on the types of skills required for success in entry-level careers and beyond. Higher-level critical thinking, problem solving, and logic skills will be required–skills typically developed in postsecondary education. In addition, researchers predict that a combination of technical knowledge and skills learned from liberal arts fields will help students be most successful after graduation. What do all of these changes mean for school counselors and college access advisors? How can we best prepare and advise students for the future of work? This session will present the latest research on career readiness and inform attendees on the steps we need to take to better inform students, parents, educators, and school counselors on how to prepare for the world of work.

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Why Students Do Not Complete the FAFSA
Steve Baher and Kathleen Hoyer, Activate Research

Thursday, April 25

This session will provide an updated and detailed look at why students or their parents report not completing the FAFSA. Using data from the NCES High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, an Update survey was conducted with the same respondents in the summer and fall of 2013, when most students had graduated from high school. The 2013 Update questionnaire could be completed by either students or their parents.  The survey sought to answer three main questions:

  1. Of fall 2009 ninth-graders who graduated from high school, what percentage of students or their parents reported completing a FAFSA?
  2. What were the reasons that students or their parents reported for not completing a FAFSA overall and by postsecondary enrollment? and
  3. Did the reasons that students or their parents reported that they did not fill out the FAFSA vary by student, family, or school characteristics?

This session will present survey findings and discuss the implications for how college access programs can help more students and their families to complete the FAFSA.

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Tennessee Higher Education Commission logo

Increasing Student Success through Community Partnerships and School College Access Teams
Duane Gregg and Kevin Edwards, Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Thursday, April 25

Over the past several years, GEAR UP TN has developed and implemented a college access and success model that has demonstrated growth in the college-going culture in our schools and communities. The framework for this model centers on creating a college-going environment that is both sustainable without GEAR UP funding and also collaborative in its approach from both the school’s and community’s perspective. This presentation will review GEAR UP TN’s model with a particular focus on the use of community partnerships and school leadership teams to promote sustainability and cultivate a college-going culture. 

Community Partnerships: Every GEAR UP TN Collaborative is required to form a community-wide College Access Steering Committee that focuses on project sustainability, resource development, building new partnerships, and expanding a college-going culture in direct-service schools. These committees are composed of 10-20 individuals, and they meet 2-4 times per year. The individuals come from many different places within the community including K-12, local higher education institutions including technical schools, non-profit organizations, local government offices, businesses and industries, foundations, and student and parent groups. 

School Leadership Teams: We have also supported our GEAR UP sites in forming, training, and coordinating a team of teachers, counselors, staff, and administrators at each school (middle and high schools) whose focus is to support the school’s college-going culture and to be active and engaged in the schools’ efforts to develop college and career ready graduates. These individuals meet 3-4 times per year and focus on topics such as FAFSA completion, College Application and Career Exploration Week, College Signing Day, mentoring of students, and teaching college and career readiness “soft” skills.

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Effective Parent Engagement Models for College Access Programs
Tina Ochoa, Families in Schools

Thursday, April 25

Families In Schools provides programs and professional development that foster authentic parent engagement in schools by building the skills, knowledge, and confidence of both parents and school/district staff on how to best work together. Programming supports student achievement, increases effective communication between staff and parents, and bridges a college- and career-readiness culture between school and home.

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Federal Student Aid logo

The new MyStudentAid Mobile App, The Financial Aid Toolkit, and Other Resources from Federal Student Aid
Claire Bucknor, Office of Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education

Thursday, April 25

In order to prepare students and parents to complete the FAFSA form, it is critical to understand the barriers that exist, the support needed, and the resources available to help them navigate the financial aid process. This session will highlight the federal support available for college access professionals to assist students and parents in various familial and financial circumstances. Participants will receive federal updates, information on the new MyStudentAid mobile app, and an overview of the Financial Aid Toolkit. This session will also encourage participants to share experiences and best practices.

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Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance logo

Customizing College and Career Readiness Content for Developing Leaders
Juterh Nmah, Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance

Thursday, April 25

In this session, attendees will learn how Go Alliance Academy modules were used to develop and enhance student engagement in leadership roles to foster a college-going culture on their campuses. Session objectives include the following:

  1. Learn how to tailor career and college readiness counselor course content to high school college access student ambassadors.
  2. Showcase student leadership experiences and the mobilization of college access initiatives.
  3. Learn how high school student leaders can identify and support human capital to engage their peers for their personalized post-secondary journeys.
  4. Use data to reflect admissions application completion, FAFSA completion, and implementation of college access initiatives in Trailblazer serviced-schools vs non-Trailblazer serviced-schools.


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Tennessee Higher Education Commission logo

Freezing Summer Melt: Strategies and Resources that Enable Students to Overcome Summer Enrollment Obstacles
MaryNelle Karas, Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Friday, April 26

According to a study by Dr. Lindsay Page, 10% to 40% of high school seniors who intend to enroll in college never make it to the first day of class. Often referred to as “summer melt,” this phenomenon occurs when college-intending students fail to enroll in college at all in the fall following high school graduation.

In this session, we will:

  1. Define “summer melt” and discuss some of the common obstacles in the enrollment process that can cause college bound students to melt.
  2. Review current research from Dr. Ben Castleman and Dr. Linsday Page on the effectiveness of behavioral nudges (text messaging) and mentoring.
  3. Highlight best practices from AdviseTN’s text messaging and summer melt programming, including the use of intake forms, exit surveys, scheduled text messaging scripts, and proactive outreach.
  4. Review additional best practices from the state of Tennessee, including strategies and resources to support students in completing FAFSA verification and a discussion of how to strengthen partnerships between high schools and post-secondary institutions.
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The University of Texas at Austin OnRamps logo

Access and Success in Practice: Scaling the Texas OnRamps Model and Network
Jennifer Saenz and Jennifer Porter, The University of Texas at Austin

Friday, April 26

This presentation will include 1) a discussion of the shared challenges of high school and higher education, 2) a review of best practices to address these shared challenges, and 3) an examination of tools to address the problems faced within the K-12 landscape.

For every student who enrolls in ninth grade in Texas public schools, only 22% complete a college degree or certificate within six years of high school. College success is a problem across Texas—worse so for low-income, underrepresented students.

The University of Texas has created an innovative and replicable initiative to drive upward mobility, with a focus on the transition from high school to college. This initiative, known as OnRamps, provides dual enrollment courses and educator professional development in K-12 schools in order to increase the number and diversity of students who engage in learning experiences aligned with the expectations of leading research universities.

OnRamps serves not only 29,407 students—more than half of whom are first-generation—but 928 educators, 313 campuses and 151 districts across Texas. OnRamps students are exposed to the academic and social expectations of a college classroom and empowered to take on the role of college student at a low risk, due in part to their status as non-matriculated, non-major students and a scaffolded support system. OnRamps educators and district partners are engaged in robust professional development and learning, which is designed to promote collective growth and peer interaction, and to ensure students can learn in and outside of the classroom.

Now in its seventh year, the impact of OnRamps is telling.

  • 72% of OnRamps students enroll in two- and four-year colleges, compared to 56% of non-OnRamps students across Texas.
  • Among 2016 high school graduates in Texas, 56.7% of low-income, credit-eligible OnRamps students enrolled in a four-year institution compared to 19.5% of low-income, non-OnRamps students.
  • OnRamps Hispanic students are approximately twice as likely to enroll in four-year colleges, compared to non-OnRamps students, more specifically 40.4% versus 20.4%.
  • 44% of Black students who completed an OnRamps course in high school earned a GPA above 2.5 in their first year of college—7 percentage points above the state.