Currently, only 67%* of Alaska's high school graduates promptly pursue education/training beyond high school. Whether this is due to a belief it is unnecessary, perception it is out of reach, or lack of encouragement and assistance, many young Alaskans never pursue the many high-skilled careers that require postsecondary education and training.
The Alaska College & Career Advising Consortium (ACAC) can bridge those gaps. ACAC appoints committed recent college graduates to work in high schools as near-peer mentors. ACAC mentors work with counselors, school staff, families, and communities to get students on track for entry into college and career training. In classroom presentations, one-on-one sessions, and group workshops, mentors engage students in candid conversations about the future beyond high school.
The ACAC mentorship involves:
- exploring career pathways and developing Personal Learning & Career Plans (PLCPs) in AKCIS – Alaska Career Information System
- determining the best fit for each student by promoting all forms of postsecondary education – career and technical schools, apprenticeships, colleges, and universities
- researching postsecondary institutions and helping students navigate the admissions process
- familiarizing students with the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) and working toward meeting its requirements
- guiding through and applying for financial aid, e.g., FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and scholarships
- assisting with registration for appropriate tests, such as PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ACCUPLACER
Fresh from their own postsecondary experiences, ACAC mentors can easily connect with students interested in skilled careers, but who otherwise might fall through the cracks. The mentors' intensive training and orientation program focuses on college and career training access, admissions, financial aid, student services, diversity and inclusion, community services, and professionalism.
In the past, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) utilized the Alaska College & Career Advising Corps program – one of the initiatives under the umbrella of the College Advising Corps. The program has now transitioned into a consortium model that emphasizes the collaboration between ACPE, school districts, regional Alaska Native Corporations, local Tribal Organizations, local non-profits, etc.
Since its inception, the program has served many Alaska's high school students in the following districts:
- Anchorage School District
- Bering Straits School District
- Chugach School District
- Delta Greely School District
- Fairbanks North Star Borough School District
- Iditarod Area School District
- Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
- Kodiak Island Borough School District
- Lower Kuskokwim School District
- Nome Public Schools
- North Slope Borough School District
- Northwest Arctic Borough School District
* Based on 'Where Alaskans Go after Graduating from High School' Infographic 2018