There are many reasons why Alaska’s high school graduates may not pursue postsecondary education or career training immediately after high school. Some may still belief that it is unnecessary; some may perceive it as unreachable; but for many it comes down to a lack of encouragement and much needed guidance, especially individuals who would be the first ones in their families to pursue postsecondary education or career training, or those from low-income families.
The reality is harsh, though, as according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s projections, 65% of Alaska’s jobs will require a postsecondary credential by the year of 2025, in particular credentials relevant to a robust Alaska’s economy. In other words, to land a job that will pay a livable wage and provide an opportunity for advancement, completing postsecondary education or career training is no longer an option, it has become a necessity.
A statewide effort to increase the number of working-age Alaskans who hold postsecondary credentials is led by the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network. This collective effort relies heavily on partnerships and collaborations, as undertaking such as this one is impossible to tackle single-handedly. ACPE has been involved in this effort since the very beginning because at its core, ACPE promotes access to and success in education and career training beyond high school.
One of ACPE’s programs, the Alaska College and Career Advising Consortium (ACAC) provides training and resources to partners across the state who are committed to developing a postsecondary education culture and helping Alaskans access and benefit from postsecondary education and career training. The initiatives under the ACAC umbrella include the annual ACAC Training, FAFSA Time Alaska, Apply Now Alaska, and Decision Day Alaska.
The annual ACAC Training is designed to equip attendees with a wide array of resources to help them support and guide students and adult learners in their preparation for postsecondary education and career training programs in Alaska. The ACAC Training is an excellent professional development opportunity that brings together under one roof representatives from Alaska’s educational institutions, state agencies, Alaska Native Corporations, Alaska Native Tribal Organizations, and local non-profit organizations.
FAFSA Time Alaska with its weekly evening FAFSA Wednesdays offers FSA ID and FAFSA completion assistance. FAFSA Time Alaska events take place between October and May, and are geared towards group attendance (school, community, etc.). FAFSA Wednesdays take place every Wednesday, year round, and were created for individuals or families. A person can drop in at any time between 3PM and 6PM on Zoom to receive assistance with FAFSA completion, or to troubleshoot issues with his/her FSA ID.
Apply Now Alaska is based on a nationwide model (the American College Application Campaign) to increase the number of students applying to postsecondary institutions. The focus of this initiative is to help high school seniors navigate the complex admissions process, and to ensure that they apply to at least one postsecondary institution or career training program (college/university, trade/vocational school, career training center, or a registered apprenticeship program).
Decision Day Alaska wraps up the school year with a celebration. The goal of Decision Day Alaska is to recognize all high school seniors and celebrate all of their postsecondary plans, whether it be college or university, trade/vocational school, career training center, registered apprenticeship program, or the military. Hosting a Decision Day Alaska event supports the best match and fit for each student, influences younger students and their families to prepare early for postsecondary education and career training, and builds and supports a postsecondary education culture.
For more information about the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network or ACPE’s Alaska College & Career Advising Consortium (ACAC) initiatives, please contact Dominika Szpotanska, ACAC Coordinator.