Currently, fewer than 50% of Alaska high school graduates promptly pursue education 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 which require postsecondary education and training.
The Alaska College & Career Advising Corps (ACAC) can bridge these gaps. ACAC places committed recent college graduates in high schools as near-peer mentors. ACAC guides work with counselors and school staff to get students on track for entry into college and career training pathways. In classroom presentations, group workshops, and one-on-one, guides engage students in candid conversations about their future. They help them:
- Explore careers and develop a career plan
- Research and apply to college and postsecondary institutions
- Apply for financial aid including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and scholarships
- Register for appropriate tests including the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ACCUPLACER
Fresh from their own college experiences, Alaska’s College & Career Guides can easily connect with students interested in skilled careers but who otherwise might fall through the cracks. The guides’ intensive training and orientation program focuses on college access, admissions, financial aid, student services, diversity, community service, and professionalism.
ACAC, an initiative of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education funded by a federal College Access Challenge Grant, is one of 19 state-based programs of the National College Advising Corps. The program began in the spring of 2009 when ACPE placed the first College & Career Guides in Anchorage’s Robert Service High School. The program expanded to Bartlett High School in 2010 and Bethel Regional High School in 2011. In 2012 the program expanded to five new schools including; Kodiak High School, Lathrop High School, Nikiski High School, North Pole High School, and Skyview High School. The Kodiak guide also works students in the seven village schools around Kodiak Island.
In 2013, in addition to adding East High School (Anchorage), Kenai Central High School, and Soldotna High School, the “Distance College & Career Guide” was piloted with Seward High School. The distance program leverages limited in person time with students at their school with ongoing web based support through Skype, Google Hangouts and social media platforms. In 2014, Delta Junction High School joined the distance pilot, and a partnership with the STEM of VTE Consortium, an Alaska Native Education Equity Grant program lead by the Chugach School District brought distance based services to students in the 25 schools from five School Districts that are members of the consortium (Chugach, Iditarod Area School District, Kenai Peninsula School Districts’s Project Grad, Kuspuck School District, and Yupiit School District).
In 2015 through a partnership with local funders, an ACAC College & Career Guide was placed at Nome-Beltz High School. Most recently, a partnership with a second Alaska Native Education Equity Grant will bring a College & Career Guide to work with students in the North West Arctic Borough School District (based in Kotzebue) in Spring 2016 and the Bering Strait School District (based in Nome) in Fall 2016.
For more information on the Alaska College & Career Advising Corps contact Greg Monrad, ACAC Program Manager at (907) 269-7971 or firstname.lastname@example.org.