Ayers Institute offers graduate credit for counselors to increase college access

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High school counselors and those who work with youth have a new, innovative way to more effectively counsel and connect young people with college opportunities.

bell_tower_1The Lipscomb University’s Ayers Institute for Teaching Learning and Innovation has partnered with the Tennessee College Access and Success Network to develop the College Access Project, a series of online training modules to provide college access knowledge to high school and youth counselors.

“Young people need knowledgeable adults to help them see themselves as college bound, plan appropriately for college and successfully apply for admission and financial aid so that they can be successful in college,” said Candice McQueen, senior vice president, dean of Lipscomb’s College of Education and executive director of the Ayers Institute.

The College Access Project provides a unique training program that is not often available to this profession.

“Research demonstrates that of the approximately 400 master’s-level counseling programs nationwide, only about 40 offer for-credit courses in college counseling, and many of these may be electives,” said Bob Obrohta, executive director of the Tennessee College Access and Success Network. “This means that very few school counselors receive this critical pro-professional training.”

As a result, these crucial points of contact for teens have very little knowledge of the best ways to apply for college, how to advise students to get into the college of their choice and how to pick the right college fit.

“This program is designed to equip counselors with a greater understanding of how to advise kids on getting into college,” said Julia Osteen, tech integration specialist at the Ayers Institute. Our goal is to build a cohort of college access leaders across Tennessee who are equipped with the tools to be agents of change in their schools and communities.”

The Ayers Institute has developed five eight-week online courses designed for anyone involved in college counseling, including school counselors, teachers, school administrators, college mentors and counselors at community-based organizations. The College Access Project is offered in five learning strands: “Creating a College-Going Culture,” “Ethics of College Access Counseling,” “Working with Young People” and “The College Admissions Process.” Each strand is facilitated and discussion-based to allow participants to share ideas and gain insights into the various environments in which college access takes place.

The strand sequence began in January, with subsequent strands running in order throughout the year. Participants may begin the course at any of the five entry points throughout the year and may register for any combination of strands, but those who complete all five strands are eligible for graduate credit and certification from the Ayers Institute. Tennessee Academy of School Leaders credit is also available for all strands. Registration is now open for the “College Admissions Process” strand that begins Aug. 25.

Tuition for the five-strand College Access Project course is $875, or $175 per strand. Group tuition rates are available for 20 or more participants per organization per strand.

For more information, visit www.lipscomb.edu/ayers or contact Osteen at 615.966.5095 or Julia.osteen@lipscomb.edu.