Each fall, hundreds of local students begin their senior year of high school, and with this comes much stress about determining what their future will hold for them. Sadly, in Michigan the student-to-counselor ratio exceeds 700:1. Our high school students desperately need support navigating the complex process of college admissions and financial aid, but our counselors don’t have enough time to dedicate to seniors and their postsecondary plans

With the support of the Tri-Cities College Access Network (TCAN), we have embedded a trained and dedicated college adviser in our high schools to help students determine their postsecondary plans and “know how-to-go”. This college advisor helps all students, but specifically targets our first-generation and Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) eligible students.

TIP is a need-based federal government plan administered through the state of Michigan that covers the first two years of tuition at a Michigan community college, and a significant portion of tuition at several four-year universities in Michigan. Our college advisor works to ensure that all TIP students are identified and take the necessary steps to take advantage of any funding that’s available to them.

“Before I was aware of the TIP program, my post high school plans were to maybe move to Texas because college over there was cheaper, but I really didn’t know too much about it,” said Faith Ellis, a student at Grand Haven High School who will graduate next year.

“Once I found out about the TIP program, I went to my counselor right away to see if I was eligible for it and he sent me to Mrs. Reenders. I started looking into what the application was like but couldn’t find much about it,” says Ellis. “With her help, my post high school education plans have changed. Now I am thinking of staying here in Michigan and going to Ferris for four years, or GRCC to get my associate’s degree and then transfer to GVSU to earn my Bachelor’s degree, studying juvenile justice.”

Figuring out what you want to do in your future isn’t typically easy for anyone but having someone like our college advisor holding students’ hands and walking with them through the process can open doors and make all the difference.