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By Kellen Moore, Staff Writer
March 23, 2007
UNC has entered a $1 million partnership with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to create a national college advising program.
The partnership, which was announced Wednesday and includes nine other colleges and universities, will be called the National College Advising Corps and will be headquartered at UNC's Jackson Hall.
|"We'd be thrilled if we find talented students who end up going to Carolina, but that's not the mission of the program,"|
The program, based on a similar initiative at the University of Virginia, will place recent UNC graduates in underserved local high schools next year to encourage students to apply to college and to assist with the application process.
"They'll do anything they possibly can to help smooth their way and knock down any hurdles that might be standing in the way of the students," said Steve Farmer, director of undergraduate admissions.
He said the advisers will spend two or three days per week at two assigned high schools.
Advisers will help students fill out college and financial aid applications, set up presentations by college representatives and meet with younger students to help them understand the steps to applying for college, Farmer said.
Although the program will be headquartered at UNC, Farmer said the focus is to expose students to a broad range of higher-education opportunities available, including community and four-year colleges.
"We'd be thrilled if we find talented students who end up going to Carolina, but that's not the mission of the program," Farmer said.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will provide $1 million over a four-year period. Most of the funds will be applied to training and paying the salaries of the advisers and program coordinator.
"We think this is a promising strategy, and we think this is something colleges can do ... to really connect universities with high schools," said Emily Froimson, director of higher education programs at the foundation.
UNC also will contribute almost $700,000 to the program, as well as donate the time and services of many staff members.
The eight area high schools selected to receive the help of the advisers are schools that have a large number of students who would be the first in their families to attend college or have large numbers of low-income families, Farmer said.
The advisers will supplement existing guidance counselors and help provide relevant and up-to-the-minute information about college, he said.
"We're not out to duplicate efforts that are already out there; we're really just coming to serve," Farmer said. "By being another person in the school and by being almost a peer, it will encourage students to seek their advice and find their way to school."
The recent grant from the foundation allowed the program to expand to nine other colleges and universities, including UNC.
With the headquarters to be located in Chapel Hill, the creator of the Virginia program, Nicole Hurd, will come to UNC to direct the National Corps.
"The original purpose was to find jobs for students wanting to work before attending law, medical or grad school," Hurd said.
"They wanted to put them into careers and keep them in-state, in careers about which they know a lot and are great resources."
Hurd said she is excited about coming to UNC and about the future of the program.
"I'm hoping that in the next five years we could be in 30 states, whereas right now we're only in nine," she said.
The program at the University of Virginia has seen an increase of 5 percent to 29 percent in the number of students going to college at the targeted schools since the program began.
In 2007, UNC's program will have four advisers working in eight schools. The program will be fully implemented in 2008 with nine advisers in 18 high schools.
Farmer said that although he isn't sure how big the program's impact will be, he said he's hopeful that it will see the same kind ofresults as the Virginia initiative.
"If we average 10 percent, I think we'll be willing to call it a victory."