National College Advising Corps 2015 Summit Group Photo
Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, Georgia: these were just some of the states I saw represented in the sea of people around me. This past week I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the 2015 College Advising Corps (CAC) Summit, the one time each year when all CAC’s college advisers are in one place. And there are a lot of us! From the inception of the CAC in 2005 with 14 advisers serving in 16 high schools, the Corps has grown to 532 advisers serving in 531 high schools. So, as you can imagine, getting us all together is a feat requiring a great deal of planning and patience. The result of this planning and patience is a four-day gathering unlike any other I have attended, even though I many never speak to many of these fellow advisers, we all share a common bond created through the work we do and the goals we have for increasing college access and attainment in the high schools we serve across the country.
I personally serve as the college adviser at Reeths-Puffer High School located in the suburbs of Muskegon, Michigan. The seniors at my high school, many of whom are low-income, first generation college students, face a lot of the same challenges as their peers around the United States. They have questions: What college should I go to? How am I going to pay for college? What am I going to do with my life? It can be overwhelming at times for my students to handle what is happening in their day-to-day lives and think about what they are going to do a year, let alone five years, down the road. My job is to be a resource for these students who may feel they are alone in planning their next steps.
However, being a college adviser can also be lonely. I am the first college adviser to serve at Reeths-Puffer High School. As such, during my first year in the school last year, I had to work to establish my role, build relationships with staff, and determine what tasks to focus on. This was a bit of a stressful process as it was difficult to ascertain what would work and what wouldn’t work in the context of the high school other than through trial and error. As a second-year adviser now, however, I have already begun to see progress in the formation of a college-going culture in my school. I still appreciate the reminder I always get from Summit though, that I am not alone in the work I do as there are hundreds of other people around the country working toward the same thing. This year in particular, viewing the exhibits at the Center for Civil and Human Rights as part of Summit was a poignant reminder that we are never alone but we are each part of something greater than ourselves.
-Heidi Little, College Adviser at Reeths-Puffer High School