Volunteers Needed for College Knowledge Month – October 2013

As we look forward to this fall, the statewide steering committee is pleased to announce that the former College Application Week will now be College Knowledge Month!  This change is based on feedback from College Application Week site coordinators, volunteers and stakeholders.  The College Knowledge Month steering committee is a state-wide group representing non-profit organizations and both public and private Minnesota colleges and universities.  The goal of College Knowledge Month is to provide every graduating high school senior with the preparation, opportunity, and support needed to apply to college, especially underrepresented students (first generation college students, students of color, and low-income students).

To support this effort, participating organizations have been asked to identify volunteers to directly assist the registered high school sites in carrying out MN College Knowledge Month activities or events.   At this time, there are at least 116 registered high school sites! This is an exciting initiative for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and allows college and university staff members to engage in the support of our high school colleagues as they guide underrepresented students in the transition from high school to post-secondary education.   All interested MnSCU employees are invited to participate.

You’ll find detailed information about how you can contribute as a registered volunteer at the Office of Higher Education webpage:  http://bit.ly/ckm4volunteers.   Through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) site, you’ll be directed to the official registration link (housed at the MACAC website).  The FAQ section below will provide you with additional background and information.

MnSCU admissions representatives, counselors, advisors, and others have contributed many hours volunteering in College Application Week events the previous two years.  We look forward to  continuing this great work during College Knowledge Month.  Thank you!

Mike López, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

Frequently Asked Question about College Knowledge Month

Why was College Application Week changed to College Knowledge Month?
A month-long effort will allow students to do more than just submit an application. Applying is only one step of the college application process – the result of thoughtful exploration and planning. Within this expanded time frame, students can participate in the application process at their own pace and find the best college fit for them. Counselors and high school staff will have more time to draft recommendations, secure transcripts and/or fee waivers and support underrepresented students. Volunteer assistance will be spread throughout the month instead of a week; with the goal that more schools will be served if scheduling needs are more flexible.

How can I participate as a volunteer?
Volunteers from colleges and the community will be a critical ingredient to the success of College Knowledge Month. Volunteers are needed in a variety of ways, depending on the high school. Examples include: greet and sign-in students, assist students with the completion of college applications, speak to student or parent groups, share information about the college application process, share personal stories about your college journey, speak about a specific topic (e.g. financial aid, diversity, college preparation, essay writing).

How do volunteers get involved?
To participate as a volunteer, please register at the following link:  http://bit.ly/ckm4volunteers. Registration will be open from August 1-16. During the registration process, you can select several schools where you are willing to volunteer, as well as your approximate availability during the month (by week). However, that does not mean that your assistance will be needed at every school you select. The steering committee will do its best to match your expertise with schools’ needs. It is up to the site coordinators to contact you as soon as possible after September 1 to secure your availability at their school.

What are the expectations for participating volunteers?
As a volunteer, you are asked to participate as an institution-neutral source of support and expertise. Students may not be applying to your particular institution, yet they may need your assistance as they begin or complete a college application. Some high schools require volunteers to complete a background check prior to participating. Note that Minnesota colleges will have different policies regarding application fees during the month. Up-to-date information will be made available on the College Knowledge Month website. If students have questions about their eligibility for an application fee waiver (i.e. NACAC, College Board), please refer them to their school counselor. To improve upon the College Knowledge Month initiative for future years, volunteers will be asked to complete a short survey after their experience.

What training and support will volunteers receive?
Resources and a short webinar for volunteers will be available on the College Knowledge Month website. Training sessions for the school sites will emphasize the importance of effectively utilizing and communicating with volunteers.

Chris Franken, Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling   chris.franken@district196.org

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