The University is launching a new statewide initiative called Michigan College Advising Corps, which aims to encourage Michigan high school students that are either first generation college students, low-income or identify as an underrepresented minority to complete higher education in the state.

University graduates selected for the program will work as full-time college advisors in high schools in underserved locations throughout the state of Michigan. The MCAC advisors will start in fall 2010, and their primary responsibilities will include guiding high school students in their college search and helping to create a pro-college culture in the schools and surrounding communities.

The program, which has a similar goal to programs like Teach for America and AmeriCorps is part of the National College Advising Corps, an organization that includes affiliates at Pennsylvania State University, University of California at Berkley, Brown University and other colleges.

The MCAC will operate out of the University’s Center for Educational Outreach.

Nick Collins, executive director of the Center for Educational Outreach, wrote in an e-mail interview that the MCAC program will expand the University’s commitment to reaching out to underserved school s across the state and encouraging students at those schools to attend college.

As part of this effort University President Mary Sue Coleman traveled to Detroit in October to speak at the 2009 Wolverine Outreach conference. The event aimed to encourage students in Detroit public schools to consider the University as a viable post-high school option.

“MCAC will be a solid complement to the numerous educational outreach programs that are based at U-M,” Collins said. “U-M’s commitment to MCAC, and to educational outreach programs as a whole, demonstrates our longstanding commitment to partnering with schools across the state to promote pathways and access to higher education opportunities.”

Amy Prevo, assistant director of the Center for Educational Outreach, wrote in an e-mail interview that the initiative will allow the University to have an impact on many locations throughout Michigan.

“The University was selected to partner with the NCAC because of our demonstrated commitment to serving underserved youth in an effort to increase the number Michigan’s low income and first generation students enrolling in postsecondary education,” Prevo wrote.

In a press release distributed last week, Coleman said she was looking forward to the University’s new college access initiative.

“The University of Michigan is committed to seeing more young people in our state pursue a college education,” Coleman said in the release. “The Michigan College Advising Corps is a natural fit with our longstanding efforts to strengthen the K-12 pipeline to higher education and prepare graduates for our state’s growing knowledge-based economy.”

In the programs first year, eight MCAC advisors will be placed in high schools in up to eight Michigan cities, including Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Pontiac.

Officials plan to expand the program to 12 community schools for the 2011-2012 school year and to 16 or more during the 2012-2013 school year.

Prevo wrote that though advisors won’t be placed in Detroit in the program’s first year, officials are considering expanding the program to the city in the next couple of years.

“Included in this expansion plan is partnering with the Detroit Public Schools,” Prevo wrote. “Considering the transitions that many schools in Detroit are currently undergoing, including the school closures slated for next year, it made the most sense to include DPS in year two or three of the program.”

LSA freshman Kelly Vargas said that the MCAC initiative is a good way to support Michigan’s youth and said she looks forward to seeing the effects of the program in the future.

“I think it’s a good idea to encourage young students to attend a postsecondary education,” Vargas said. “I would be intrigued to see what effects this program would bring about in Michigan.”

Engineering freshman Sami Luber agreed and added that the MCAC could be an economically sound investment in Michigan’s high school students.

“It’s an investment that we are doing for the future,” Luber said.

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