Friday, May 15, 2009

MA Invests in Students

May 15, 2009- True story. “Johnny T. (aka JT)” is an honors student from the south of Boston. He lives in a small rental with his mother and two younger brothers. Dad left 13 years ago. His mother never stops reminding her boys to put school first. She’s not very helpful with calculus homework, but she certainly helps them understand the importance of an education, even though no one in her family went to college.

JT’s guidance counselor saw his GPA during their “Fall meeting” of JT’s senior year. JT’s counselor made sure he handed him a few state college view books. He recommended that instead of a community college, he should consider a 4-year school. He then prepared for the next 150 seniors he was scheduled to meet. Without much thought, JT graduated and enrolled at the closest suburban 4-year public so he could commute in under 45 minutes.

Unfortunately, JT didn’t adjust to being one of 8,000 students trekking across 200 acres. He’d never been in a class with 125 students before. And he quickly learned that his peers’ idea of “student life” was much different than the church retreats he and his brothers enjoyed.

After a tough semester, JT struck up a conversation with one of his mom’s friends. She started to tell JT about a small, faith-based private college in his hometown. With the help of his mom’s friend, he met with the financial aid office, transferred some of his credits, and enrolled as a sophomore… he finally found his fit. Unfortunately, it cost him a lot of time, money and experiences that couldn’t be recovered.

This is an all too common story… and one that fails everyone involved- JT, his over-worked & under-supported counselor, the public college that lost tuition revenue, and the private college that missed out on enrolling JT as a freshman. Roughly 45% of college students transfer from their initial college w/in the first-two years of arrival. An astonishing statistic that highlights the extent of a broken system for all involved.

MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority) in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and the Department of Education, have partnered with ConnectEDU to build the Massachusetts College & Career Planning Web Portal. Through this technology, students in Massachusetts schools will be provided web-based tools to make sure they have the information, resources, and guides to identify and learn about colleges that are a best fit for them. The MEFA web portal ensures that all students in Massachusetts, including lower income and underserved populations, have access to college and career planning assistance and mentoring required to make more informed decisions about their future.

In addition, the Massachusetts College & Career Planning Web Portal is being built so that it has full interoperability with ConnectEDU’s existing college and career planning solutions. This will provide students with even greater access to the MEFA tools as well as the benefits of the ConnectEDU National Network. Great stuff!

What does this mean for students like Johnny’s younger brothers? It means figuring out what they want to be “when they grow up”… and how to achieve their goals. It means being introduced to college preparation and colleges as early as the 7th grade. It means building relationships with colleges and employers to truly find the right “fit” and optimal career path.

But more than anything, it means “fixing” a broken process! It’s a new era in college recruitment and admissions in Massachusetts. At ConnectEDU, we’re looking forward to helping more students across the state invest in their future as we help Massachusetts invest in its students.

No comments: