Part of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Center for Educational Outreach (CEO) supports and advances the University of Michigan’s commitment to educational outreach and academic excellence. CEO partners with faculty, staff, and students to develop and implement programs that inform, engage, and inspire a diverse community of scholars.
As the University’s hub of educational outreach, CEO collaborates and serves U-M schools, colleges, faculty, staff units, and student organizations through consulting, community of practice events, and seed funding. DEI and outreach services are accessible to faculty and staff through free consulting services and four communities of practice, which focus on key outreach trends and programming resources.
CEO supports the state of Michigan primarily through school-based service, public engagement activities, outreach professional networks, and infrastructure support. Through federally-funded initiatives, CEO supports sixteen high schools to house recent U-M graduates as full-time college advisers as well as offers GEAR UP programming to four Detroit and Southfield high schools to promote a college-going culture. CEO’s public engagement services to the state include DEI-focused campus visits and free community and school consultations, which are framed through a mutually-beneficial and bidirectional relationship mindset.
Communicating with students about educational options after high school is a critical step to address issues of access and equity in post-secondary education. Navigating through the variety of options can seem overwhelming and the college application process can be daunting and complex. The process of obtaining financial aid is also a significant barrier to entry for many students and inhibits them from pursuing post-secondary options for which they are qualified. However, these factors should not be deterrents, and addressing this issue is one aspect of our work at the Center for Educational Outreach. Research has continually demonstrated that “informational interventions” significantly increase the likelihood of students pursuing post-secondary options by addressing the misconceptions that many students hold and by bridging the resource gap. Informing students about the options, resources and support available to them in their educational journey is a key component of our mission.
Developing a college-going culture among youth is essential for making post-secondary education more accessible. College aspiration does not happen overnight; this mindset and belief must be cultivated through meaningful and effective engagement. For many students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, information about college is provided only sporadically and without structure. Research has shown that having college plans by the tenth grade increases students’ likelihood of attending by 21%, compared to plans created during the twelfth grade. Providing students with opportunities to engage with ideas and explore academic disciplines and career paths is an important way to help students prepare for life after high school graduation; this can have a significant impact on their aspirations. At the Center for Educational Outreach, we seek to engage students, schools and communities in a variety of ways to promote access to and success in post-secondary education.
Enhancing the concept of college in the minds of K-12 students is crucial and seeing themselves at college is a key focus for the Center for Educational Outreach. Through the power of storytelling, students can see themselves within the stories of professionals and their educational journeys. Developing a sense of belonging is a powerful motivator. The Center strives to promote a college-going culture within our school and community partners as well as provide the resources and inspiration needed for students to know they belong in college and will succeed.