Georgia College Advising Corps
The Georgia College Advising Corps, or GCAC, aims to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented students who enter and complete higher education. By placing recent graduates — many of whom are themselves first-generation college students — as college advisers in underserved high schools, our program works in communities across the state to provide the advising and encouragement that many students need to navigate the college admissions process and secure financial aid.
GCAC meets a critical need. With guidance counselor caseloads reaching 500 students per counselor nationwide, our advisers work one-on-one with the students assisting them as they search for two- or four-year colleges that match their academic profiles and fit their financial, social, and cultural needs, complete admissions and financial aid applications, and take the final steps needed to complete their enrollment.
This help is crucial for students at underserved high schools, who are less likely than their affluent counterparts to have friends or family members who have navigated the complicated world of college admissions and financial aid. Because advisers are close in age and background to the students they serve, they can connect with students in ways that others often cannot.
Recent college graduates are recruited and trained to work alongside professional high school guidance counselors with the goal of increasing college applications and attendance by helping first-generation, underrepresented, and low-income students enroll and graduate from postsecondary institutions that match and fit their academic profiles.
By increasing the number of Georgia high school students enrolling in and completing college, this program supports workforce and economic development for the state. And, UGA and the Institute benefit from the insights of students, counselors and teachers on current opportunities and persistent challenges in college access and completion.
On the national level, schools served by the program see an 8–12 percentage point increase in college-going rates versus control schools in the area. Advising Corps partner high schools see an average increase of $1 million in additional scholarship dollars per school for their college-going students. Surveys also found that partner high schools showed an overall increase in the number of college visits per student, attendance at college fairs, FAFSA completion, SAT/ACT registration, and overall school morale. Students have reported a greater awareness of higher education and what is required to attend college as a direct result of working with an adviser.
The Georgia College Advising Corps (GCAC), has recently expanded to 18 high schools across the state thanks to a generous commitment from The Robert Woodruff Foundation and other sponsors.
Leadership Through Service
The Advising Corps was modeled in the spirit of national service: Advisers serve two years as they work to determine their future graduate school or career plans. This allows us to attract passionate, dedicated young graduates. The Advising Corps is creating a new generation of active and engaged civic-minded leaders who hone their skills as they serve our state and our nation’s schools. Close in age and background to the students they serve, their primary message is, “I graduated from college. You can, too!”
Libby V. Morris, Executive Director
Yarbrah Peeples, Program Director
Mariea Tountasakis, Program Coordinator
Tiffanie Spencer, Program Assistant
Thank You to Our Sponsors
Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Inc.
Provided funding to expand the GCAC program from four to 16 college advisers in 2013
Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc.
Provided seed money to begin the GCAC program in four high schools in Georgia
Funding support for Maynard Jackson High School (Atlanta)
East Lake Foundation
Funding support for Drew Charter School (Atlanta)
Funding support for eight of the Atlanta Public Schools high school advisers who work at B.E.S.T. Academy H.S., Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy H.S., D.M. Therrell H.S., Grady H.S., Benjamin Mays H.S., Maynard Jackson H.S., and North Atlanta H.S.
Funding to provide advisers with education awards to be used for school loans or graduate school
Funding support for Drew Charter School and Maynard Jackson High School (Atlanta)
Funding to support a college adviser at Clarke Central High School (Athens), Westside (Augusta), and Thomson High Schools (Thomson)
Bank of America
Funding to support projects at Clarke Central High School
John and Mary Franklin Foundation, Inc.
Funding to support the four original partner high schools
Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation
Funding to support two advisers in Rockdale County at Salem High School and Rockdale County High School