Sometimes it’s not enough to encourage kids to go to college. It takes some guidance to navigate the whole application process. With that in mind, the John M Belk Endowment has donated $10 million to put college counselors in sixty low-income, rural high schools across the state.
Many high schools have counselors to help students with applying to colleges. But that’s not their whole job. They may also be tracking down truant students, helping kids with school and family problems, and working with parents too. There’s not always a lot of time for college advising.
“Many high schools today across the country have a really frighteningly high student to counselor ratio. Often times it’s over 400 to one,” says Amir Farokhi with the College Advising Corps.
The group based in Chapel Hill will receive $10 million over the next three years from the John M Belk Endowment. The College Advising Corps will work with Davidson College, UNC Chapel Hill and NC State.
“We found that one of the most effective ways to enhance a college-going culture in a high school and to increase the rates by which students apply to and attend college is to put a full-time college advisor who can relate really directly to the students to whom they’re serving,” says Farokhi.
Most of these advisors are the first in their family to go onto college, so they can relate to the students they work with. The group’s advisors are already in 425 schools across the country.
They’ve seen some positive results. Stanford University has crunched some of their numbers and finds students in the schools they’re in are 31 percent more likely to attend college right after graduation.
This gift marks something of a new direction for the John M Belk Endowment. For many years, the endowment money went to fund merit scholarships at Davidson College. The endowment’s director Kristy Teskey says the group will now begin giving away $13 million every year to improve education in North Carolina.
“We will be looking for partnerships and investments around completion and job readiness…how are we getting that workforce ready to make sure people are finding good jobs that are family sustaining,” says Teskey.
The announcement was made at the White House’s Higher Education Summit.