By Dedra Cordle
The South-Western City Schools board of education has approved the expansion of a college readiness program.
At a recent meeting, the board announced they had reached an agreement with I Know I Can to expand its services to all four of the district’s high schools for the remainder of the 2019/20 school year. Representatives with the program have had a presence at Franklin Heights and Westland since funding for the pilot program was approved by county officials in 2018.
According to Erik Shuey, the district’s executive director of secondary education and athletics, a college advising manager will now be placed at Central Crossing and Grove City and their positions will be retained at the other high schools.
The mission of the college advising manager, said Shuey, is to focus on 11th and 12th grade students as they prepare for post-high school education.
“They really target these students, and do so on a one-on-one basis, as they get ready to navigate the intricacies of finding a community college or four-year university that fits their career interest as well as their financial situation.”
Laura Kraus, the director of program development at IKIC, said this interaction is important as students often find out that their interests do not match those of their ideal colleges.
“It is all about helping them find their fit and match,” she said.
In addition to that important, and money saving, aspect, the college advising managers assist the juniors and seniors with the admissions process, application essays, campus tours and financial aid packages.
“We have found that navigating federal financial aid forms can be discouraging for so many students,” said Kraus. “Our college advising managers work with them and their families throughout the process to make it as simple as it can be.”
Kraus went on to say that it is not just students prepared to go straight into a four-year university that the college advising managers help.
“If someone wants to go right into HVAC work, or enlist into the military right out of high school, we help them do that as well.”
They even go beyond graduation, reaching out in the summer to those who planned to attend college or university.
“It’s a part of our summer intrusive advising,” said Kraus with a laugh. “We know that time can be overwhelming and we just want to give them as much encouragement and support as we can.”
The feedback from the students and staff at the schools who participated in the program in 2018 has been nothing but outstanding, said officials.
“It has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Shuey.
Per the terms of the funding agreement that was approved by the Franklin County Commissioners and the county department of job and family services in 2018, a success coach was placed at both Franklin Heights and Westland. The success coach works with freshmen and sophomores to help gauge career interests and keep them on track academically.
The board approved funding agreement, which amounts to $85,000, will retain the success coaches at those schools but does not place them at Central Crossing or Grove City this calendar year.
“We would love to see success coaches at all of our high schools but it really just depends on grants and funding,” said Shuey.
The board will meet with IKIC representatives in the summer to determine whether the program should continue.
“We would love to remain a part of this district,” said Kraus.
The program has been a part of Columbus City Schools since 1988 and has been attributed with helping tens of thousands of students reach their higher education goals.