The Michigan College Advising Corps (MCAC) is a diverse group of recent University of Michigan graduates working full-time as college advisers in under-served high schools throughout Michigan. Advisers help students navigate every aspect of the college-going process and identify their personal best fit among various post-secondary options.
Additionally, they work with principals, counselors, teachers, and other college access advocates to foster a college-going culture in their school and community. Through this work, advisers contribute to the mission of the national College Advising Corps (CAC): to increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students entering and completing higher education.
Beyond the Classroom As a member of the Michigan College Advising Corps (MCAC), Abigail Barondess serves as a college advisor for 300 seniors at Ottawa High
In 2004, the University of Virginia piloted a project that placed recent college graduates in under-served high schools in the Charlottesville area as “college guides” to serve as a resource to assist low-income, first-generation and underrepresented high school students navigate the college-going process. In 2007, the project received a large grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the College Advising Corps was established on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With increased funding from sources such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and Bank of America, the program has grown to employ over 800 advisers under 31 college and university partner programs that serve more than 240,000 students in approximately 780 high schools in 17 states.
The Michigan College Advising Corps began in 2009 as one of the Center for Educational Outreach’s (CEO) direct-service initiatives. Each of MCAC’s 14 partner high schools has a college adviser who works on-site daily, as well as access to other U-M resources and CEO services such as faculty visits from the Wolverine Express, personalized campus visits led by CASA staff, the Watson A. Young need-based scholarship for summer opportunities, and MCAC’s own Michigan Application Day and Michigan Experience Day on-campus programming. Likewise, MCAC partners with external college access organizations such as the Michigan College Access Network and AdviseMI, the Michigan State University College Advising Corps, and other Local College Access Networks to expand college access across the state. Through this work, MCAC strives to inform students about their right to a college education, engage families in the college-going process, and inspire communities to continue strengthening their college-going culture.
Following in the tradition of AmeriCorps and Teach for America, MCAC recruits and trains advisers to work for up to two years following the completion of their undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. Under this near-peer model, MCAC advisers can complement the skills developed during training with their own experiences navigating the college setting to more quickly establish rapport with students and better advocate for their long-term goals. This proves critical as advisers assist seniors not only in deciding which post-secondary goals to pursue, but also in identifying the academic, social, and financial resources needed to make these goals attainable and sustainable realities.
Within the school setting, MCAC advisers supplement professional counseling staff, serving as students’ advocates, mentors, and liaisons. Advisers facilitate timely, large-scale programming throughout the year to walk students through college-going processes—such as college applications, FAFSA submission, and scholarships—as well as 1-on-1 meetings with students and families to ensure that post-secondary decisions are made with all parties in mind. They also serve as critical pathfinders, connecting students with relevant support staff at the high school or college level to provide each student with equitable access to the resources they need in their community and beyond.
Overall, seniors at our partner high schools who meet with their MCAC adviser are:
WHAT DOES AN ADVISER DO?
Our advisers are dynamic members of their partner high schools whose responsibilities may differ from site-to-site to fit the needs of their students and staff. The following list details the duties an adviser might be expected to perform:
WHAT DOES THE COMMITMENT LOOK LIKE?
MCAC advisers commit to a year of service beginning early July through June of the following year, throughout which they will work a total of 1,700 hours through service in their partner high school, training, and volunteer opportunities. This year of services includes:
Advisers are AmeriCorps members: