Brook Thompson, program director of the Georgia College Advising Corps, and Azariah Partridge, adviser at Cedar Shoals High School, provided an overview of the goals and successes of the advising program’s work at a special session for the McBee Institute faculty and students.
GCAC is a nationally recognized outreach program that works in underserved high schools across Georgia to assist students through the postsecondary selection, admissions, and financial aid processes.
Thompson and Partridge shared the dashboard they use to track adviser interactions and student milestone completions. They use the data to inform their outreach and planning within their schools. Brook described their efforts as “a holistic student-centered data-informed approach.”
While engaging in goal setting and tracking KPIs, the program advisers focus on the people, not the numbers. Several of the advisers have returned to serve in their alma maters to build a college-going culture within their schools. They also support students through the process of imagining what they will do after graduation—whether it’s to enter college or not.
The advisers organize informative programming and reach out individually to the students to offer their guidance through a transformative time. They form a tight network to share ideas for programming and effective approaches that the high school students notice.
Thompson and Partridge highlighted successes of Instant Decision Days, when students can find out immediately if they were admitted to a college, and of Partridge’s recent Divine Nine Step Show at her school. "It helped the students see the benefits of college beyond classes," said Partridge.
To support recent growth in the program, executive director Dr. Libby V. Morris and Thompson continue to connect with more partners and grant funding. Recently, GCAC started a small hub in south Georgia with new schools in Colquitt and Grady counties.
Thompson urged the attendees to get increasingly involved with the program. She invited members of the McBee faculty and students to recruit advisers for this impactful program, to identify new schools, to discuss access-related research findings with the advisers, and to make gifts to GCAC. More than 75% of the advisers pursue graduate degrees after their service. Thompson noted that current students could support the advisers through the graduate school application process.