MSU College Advising Corps Inspires College-Going Culture

December 23, 2015
2015 MSUCAC advisers

2015 MSUCAC advisers

When Ashley Justice completed her MSU education degree in 2014 and started on her path toward the teaching career she’d always dreamed of, she had a thought that haunts many undergraduate students: “What if this isn’t what I want to do forever?” 

Upon having this realization, Justice said, she applied to be an advisor with the the MSU College Advising Corps (MSUCAC), an opportunity that “came along at the perfect moment” in her life. MSUCAC is a unique program that gives recent MSU graduates the opportunity to serve their community by advising high school students on their options for education post-graduation and creating a college-going culture among high schoolers.

The two-year program is affiliated with the national non-profit organization Americorps, and aims to increase post-secondary enrollment in colleges and universities across Michigan. Members of the cohort participate in a month-long program together, attend conferences across the country and, most significantly, are involved in monthly professional development workshops that are designed to equip them inspire student involvement at the 37 high schools that they serve.

Each MSUCAC adviser is assigned to a high school in Michigan. Justice, who is currently serving her second year as an adviser at Waverly High School in west Lansing, sits down one-on-one with high school students to talk them through their options for higher education. Justice said she has taken students on college tours, helped them find a program that best fits their interest, walked students through the application process, and even helped them apply for financial aid once they’ve received acceptance.

Justice (center) poses with the College Ambassadors Club that she sponsors at Waverly High School.

Justice (center) poses with the College Ambassadors Club that she sponsors at Waverly High School.

According to Justice, her favorite experience with MSUCAC has been seeing a student’s excitement when they finally receive that acceptance.

“I’m proud to have a college education and I think it’s important for students to have the support they need to get there if that’s what they want as well,” Justice said. “I’ve grown a lot through this experience and believe this was an opportunity for me to make a tremendous impact on the lives of students in this community.”

Through serving, members of the MSUCAC earn an annual educational award that can be contributed toward paying off undergraduate loans or a future graduate school program.

Ruben Watson, MSUCAC program coordinator in the Career Services Network, said he believes the cohort has something to offer recent graduates of all majors and concentrations, but particularly those with a passion for helping others that are looking for professional experience.

The most important aspect of the initiative is that applicants have the opportunity to gain “invaluable experience and be part of something that is greater than oneself,” Watson said.

Many advisers go on to careers in higher education, and many use the experience as a platform while applying for graduate school, according to Watson. This includes Justice, who hopes to continue on to graduate school for higher education and ultimately pursue a career with non-profit organizations once she concludes her two-year advising stint next spring.

If you’re interested in becoming involved with MSUCAC for the 2016-2017 school year, contact Watson at watsonru@csp.msu.edu. For more information about the program, visit http://advisingcorps.org/program/michigan-state-university/

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