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GCAC Expands Presence in Georgia

Betz Kerley

“GCAC is a wonderful example of UGA giving back to the state and to schools and to underserved students in Georgia.”

The Georgia College Advising Corps (GCAC) has recently expanded to sixteen high schools in Georgia. Thanks to a generous commitment from The Robert Woodruff Foundation and other sponsors, funds will enable the GCAC to quadruple its presence in the state.

Founded in 2009, the GCAC is the result of a partnership between the IHE, the Watson-Brown Foundation and the National College Advising Corps. The NCAC, based in Chapel Hill, serves 117,000 in 14 states across the country by providing the advice and encouragement that many students need to navigate the complex processes of college applications and financial aid and enroll in schools.

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 their academic profiles.

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.

GCAC Executive Director and UGA Interim Provost Libby Morris gave her thoughts on the GCAC. "I believe in GCAC not only for what it does for students and their families, but also for the message it communicates about UGA’s commitment to the Governor and the University System’s Complete College Georgia Initiative.* GCAC is a wonderful example of UGA giving back to the state and to schools and to underserved students in Georgia."

In related news, IHE graduate Yarbrah T. Peeples (PhD 2012) has been appointed the program director for GCAC. Peeples comments on her new position. “It is a privilege to return to the Georgia College Advising Corps as the new program director. I am energized by the amazing group of young leaders who will be working with students throughout Georgia to help enhance college access and completion. The advisers are enthused, committed, and prepared to serve; together, we will work diligently to increase college going among Georgia students.”

The long-term goal for GCAC is to place as many advisers as are needed in high schools throughout Georgia. The IHE is honored to be involved in this worthwhile program. Dr. Morris sums it up best, “I am proud that the Institute of Higher Education engages not only in high quality research and instruction, but that we are also committed to outreach around important school and post-secondary needs.”

*The University System’s Complete College Georgia Initiative was developed to help support the state’s commitment to the Complete College America’s goal that by 2020, 60% of young adults will hold a college certificate or degree. This is a joint effort between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System. A strong foundation between the two provides a partnership necessary to improve college completion.

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