MCAC hopes to en­cour­age more stu­dents to go to col­lege

Sunday Star - - LOCAL -

BAL­TI­MORE — The Mary­land State De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, the Mary­land Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion and Col­lege Goal Mary­land, in part­ner­ship with the Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Ed­u­ca­tion, are spon­sor­ing the Mary­land Col­lege Ap­pli­ca­tion Cam­paign through Oct. 26.

The cam­paign is de­signed to en­cour­age a higher per­cent­age of the state’s work­ing pop­u­la­tion to gain the ben­e­fit of a post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

The MCAC’s goal is to in­crease the num­ber of stu­dents who are ap­ply­ing to col­lege early in their se­nior year, par­tic­u­larly stu­dents from fam­i­lies that have never at­tended col­lege or may be from low so­cioe­co­nomic cir­cum­stances.

The cam­paign also fo­cuses on un­ac­com­pa­nied and fos­ter care youth, stu­dents in the ju­ve­nile ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents and oth­ers un­der­rep­re­sented in higher ed­u­ca­tion. Home school stu­dents are in­cluded in the cam­paign for the first time this year.

Mary­land has a com­pre­hen­sive and sup­port­ive process that cul­mi­nates in stu­dents’ ac­cep­tance into a post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tion. Dozens of high schools in 20 Mary­land school sys­tems are tak­ing part in the MCAC.

“Ed­u­ca­tion be­yond high school is crit­i­cal for both our high school grad­u­ates and the needs of Mary­land em­ploy­ers,” said Dr. Karen Sal­mon, state su­per­in­ten­dent of schools. “For many of to­day’s ca­reers, an as­so­ciate’s de­gree is an en­try-level cre­den­tial. More of our stu­dents must take ad­van­tage of this golden op­por­tu­nity.”

Dur­ing the MCAC, stu­dents re­ceive spe­cial as­sis­tance when ap­ply­ing to any of Mary­land’s com­mu­nity col­leges, in­de­pen­dent col­leges, pri­vate ca­reer schools, pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties, and out-of-state col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties.

The ini­tia­tive in­cludes work­ing with staff from the Gain­ing Early Aware­ness and Readi­ness for Un­der­grad­u­ate Pro­grams (Gear-Up) and school coun­selors to pre­pare stu­dents for the rig­or­ous col­lege ap­pli­ca­tion process. It also es­tab­lishes a for­mal part­ner­ship with Col­lege Goal Mary­land and the Mary­land Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion to as­sist with com­plet­ing fi­nan­cial aid ap­pli­ca­tions.

Start­ing in Oc­to­ber and con­tin­u­ing through March, Col­lege Goal Mary­land and Mary­land Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion staff and vol­un­teers will pro­vide guided as­sis­tance in com­plet­ing Free Ap­pli­ca­tion for Fed­eral Stu­dent Aid ap­pli­ca­tions.

In ad­di­tion, pro­fes­sion­als work­ing with Col­lege Goal Mar yland and the Mar yland Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion will as­sist par­ents/guardians and stu­dents in un­der­stand­ing fi­nan­cial aid re­sources, the fi­nan­cial aid ap­pli­ca­tion process and how to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing statewide stu­dent ser­vices and ad­mis­sion re­quire­ments.

The MCAC is part of Amer­i­can Col­lege Ap­pli­ca­tion Week, which takes place na­tion­wide. In 2014, Mary­land pi­loted the ef­fort with 21 high schools rep­re­sent­ing seven lo­cal school sys­tems. Last year, par­tic­i­pa­tion had grown to 129 schools in 19 sys­tems.

This year’s par­tic­i­pa­tion marks a new record, with ap­prox­i­mately 160 schools par­tic­i­pat­ing from the fol­low­ing school sys­tems: Anne Arun­del, Bal­ti­more City, Bal­ti­more County, Car­o­line, Ce­cil, Charles, Dorch­ester, Gar­rett, Howard, Kent, Mont­gomery, Prince Ge­orge’s, Queen Anne’s, Som­er­set, St. Mary’s, Tal­bot, Wash­ing­ton and Wi­comico.

The SEED School of Mary­land and the 13 Ju­ve­nile Ed­u­ca­tion Ser vices fa­cil­i­ties also are in­cluded in the to­tal num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing sites. The MCAC process cul­mi­nates with par­tic­i­pat­ing high schools hold­ing Col­lege De­ci­sion Day events in May.

The MCAC has launched Face­book, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram pages to al­low schools to up­load pic­tures, com­ments and videos pro­mot­ing the MCAC events and ac­tiv­i­ties.

For ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the MCAC, con­tact Michelle Da­ley, com­pre­hen­sive plan­ning spe­cial­ist/MCAC state co­or­di­na­tor at 410-767-0359 or michelle. da­ley@mary­land.gov.

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