GVSU partners with Godwin Heights in college advising program

GVL / Courtesy - Elizabeth Lienau

GVL / Courtesy - Elizabeth Lienau

Ashlyn Korienek

To increase the amount of Michigan residents with college degrees 60 percent by 2025, Grand Valley State University, Godwin Heights Public Schools and the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) are establishing a graduate student college advising program.

The GVSU School Counseling Graduate Program was signed by Dean of Graduate Studies Jeff Potteiger of GVSU and Superintendent William Fetterhoff of Godwin Heights on Aug. 3.

Potteiger said this new program will place a GVSU graduate into Godwin Heights 20 hours per week to work alongside school counselors, teachers and administrators helping students navigate postsecondary plans. He said this will help improve college enrollment rates and build a college-going culture in high school.

“This should allow those students interacting with college advisers to better understand the importance of a post-secondary education,” Potteiger said, “and to understand the various opportunities available to them.”

In order to reach the goal of 60 percent by 2025, Potteiger said MCAN makes strategic alliances with organizations with an aligned vision.

Currently, MCAN supports college advising programs in partnership with 14 Michigan universities, including GVSU, to place college graduates in high-need schools as college advisers.

“The goals of this program are to help MCAN increase the proportion of Michigan residents with college degrees,” Potteiger said. “This will provide real world experience for GVSU graduates and provide Godwin Heights students with access to information on post-secondary educational opportunities.”

Shawn Bultsma, director of the School Counseling Graduate Program in GVSU’s College of Education, will be in charge of selecting the graduate student to participate in the assistantship. Bultsma said Godwin Heights currently has two available counselors, Jose Orozco and Tish Stevenson, but the graduate student would help them reach more students with college-related inquiries.

“The job of the school counselor is to help students with social or emotional development and to support students with plans after high school,” Bultsma said. “Now, think of the kids that don’t have a good relationship with their counselor because the student-to-counselor ratio is too high.

“The college adviser would help these counselors to better provide a positive college-going atmosphere in school – kind of like a coach.”

The graduate student, Bultsma said, would not only check if students are meeting deadlines and understanding the financial or educational process, but help promote events such as college application week from Oct. 26 to Oct. 30.

“These tasks are something counselors already do, but the graduate college adviser would focus solely on one aspect extending the reach to additional students,” he said. “The focus of this partnership is to increase the amount of college degrees in the Godwin Heights area whether it be a two-year degree, four-year or certificate.”

According to the Michigan College Access Network, the chosen graduates will undergo five weeks of training before placement. Additionally, the GVSU graduate will be employed at Godwin Heights from September 2015 to April 2016.

Bultsma said the cost for this graduate program is being provided partially by district funding and MCAN grant funding. He said Potteiger authorized tuition to be covered as a special project by the College of Graduate Studies.

For more information on Michigan’s College Advising Program visit, www.micollegeaccess.org/statewide-initiatives/advisemi.