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AmeriCorps Spotlight: Virginia College Advising Corps

The thought of applying to college is a daunting task to many low-income students. Many students are the first to attend college in their families and don’t know how to begin to tackle the complexities of applications and financial aid. The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia - Virginia College Advising Corps AmeriCorps program members are trained in every aspect of the college-going process, and can help students navigate these complexities.

Members meet one-on-one with students and also with parents. This intervention of a trained, near-peer adviser helps students matriculate to post-secondary education in higher numbers. Members are also engaging with community centers, education partners, churches, local businesses, and many other organizations in order to create a college-going culture in their area.

According to an external evaluation conducted by Evaluation and Assessment Solutions for Education (EASE), students served by College Advisers are 25 percent more likely to apply

to college and 34 percent more likely to be accepted to four-year institutions. Raising the rates of college matriculation and degree completion is critical for the future needs of our country. It is also highly beneficial to the individual, not only in terms of increased earnings over their lifetime, but in many measures of better quality-of-life.

Recently one of the Virginia College Advisers was profiled in the National Journal. She is serving at the high school she attended, giving back to her community by committing these two years of her life to help students make informed choices about their next step. Hers is a special story because she was inspired to serve in the role by her own College Adviser, an AmeriCorps member in our program from 2009-2011. Read the article.

In 2012, the National College Advising Corps won the Service Impact Award from the Corporation for National and Community Service. This accolade was shared by all of the partner College Advising Corps programs. Watch the video.

The AmeriCorps program launched in 2005 with the mission of increasing college access for low-income, underrepresented, and first generation students in the Commonwealth. The program currently partners with 16 high schools around the state -- from Southside Virginia to Alexandria. These service sites are where the members live and become engaged with the community.

Additionally, they have a partner in the College Advising Corps, a cohort of 20 higher education institutions in 14 states implementing the same college access program model. The Advising Corps has critical funding partners including the Harvest Foundation in Martinsville, Elizabeth Stuart James Grant Trust in Danville, Nelson County Community Fund, Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, William Cooke Foundation of Louisa, and of course, AmeriCorps!

Published on Thursday, October 24, 2013