Tennessee Launches College Counselor Program for 30 Schools

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has launched a $2.4 million program that will allow additional college counselors to be placed into 30 public high schools statewide by the beginning of the next school year.

These professionals will assist approximately 10,000 juniors and seniors to ensure that students enroll in a college where their success rates will be high. Students will also receive advice for technical colleges and community colleges or universities.

Adam Tamburin, reporting for The Tennessean, writes that the program, called Advise TN, was an augmentation of other Drive to 55 measures such as Tennessee Promise. This program offers high school seniors tuition-free access to a state community college.

“Research tells us that having a school-wide culture of college-going — of students knowing that college isn’t only an option for them but it’s an expectation — is one of the best indicators of whether students will pursue higher education,” Haslam said. “This program will provide schools across the state with one more adult in students’ lives, focused on helping them navigate the transition from high school to college.”

High schools will qualify to participate in Advise TN if they have average college-bound student levels that are less than the three-year state average of 58.8%. To engage in the program, public high schools must apply and then be chosen by the Tennessee Higher Education Committee. The committee will be looking for schools that are dedicated to creating a college-bound culture in their schools.

Executive Director of Drive to 55 Mike Krause noted that a community schools-based tactic may solve the ongoing problems circling college literacy and readiness that continue to trail some public high schools.

The college counselors will assist pupils in their preparation for the ACT while they are juniors. When they are seniors, the counselors will help students with their college applications and their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. And even after graduation, the advisers will work with their students to make sure they complete their college preparation.

Schools have until August 12 to apply for the new program. This summer the counselors are being hired and trained and will be assigned their school locations at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year, according to Amy Katcher of WDEF-TV.

Education officials say the college advisers will work with existing school counseling staff and will not be replacing them. The schools that are selected will be required to develop sustainability plans to ensure the program continues when and if state funding is discontinued.

The Drive to 55 campaign is in place to increase the number of Tennessee residents who have post-secondary degrees or credentials to 55% by the year 2025.

Already, Tennessee Promise has raised first-time college freshmen enrollment by 25% at community colleges. Gov. Haslam referenced research that found that when a school has a culture of college attendance, students are more likely to believe that college is an expectation for them. That expectation is a reliable indicator of whether or not a student will seek higher education.

The additional college advisers will work with high school counselors, educators, local partners, and parents to rev up the schools’ college-going climate and help young people navigate the college-going process, writes Clarksville Online.