Lansing, MI - College has become more of a necessity, rather than a privilege, for most students across the country today.
A non-profit group is working in 50 communities across Michigan to help low-income students get to and prepare for college. The Michigan College Access Network or MCAN is working in high schools in Lansing, Jackson and more.
MCAN wants to improve college readiness and completion rates for students across the state, particularly students who are low-income, first-generation college students or students of color.
"I really wanted to start an organization that took some accountability for helping students make that transition as seamless as possible," says MCAN Executive Director Brandy Johnson.
The goal is to make Michigan a more well-educated state.
By 2025, they want 60% of Michiganders to have some form of post-secondary education - whether that is college or some sort of post-high school job training.
"We want to create a college-going culture in Michigan," says Johnson.
When MCAN first started working in high schools and communities around the state in 2010, the amount of Michigan residents having achieved higher education was at 34%, and now four years later, 37% of residents have achieved higher education of some kind.
The network is seeing the most gains with low income students. The amount of low income students in Michigan with post secondary degrees has increased by 22 percent since 2010.
MCAN also places recent college grads in local high schools to serve as college advisers.
"It's always questions of: 'What schools can I apply to?' 'I need to apply here, there, here'" says Delorean Brown who works as an adviser at a Detroit high school.
"My biggest priority is meeting with students and being available to them," says Kylie Horrocks who works as the college adviser at Ionia High School.
Recent college graduates serve as advisers for two years.
The way MCAN sees it, higher education is a both a private good, it benefits the student and their family, and a public good, education makes Michigan communities better.
"Crime rates go down, smoking rates go down, voting and volunteerism rates go up," says Johnson.
If you are interested in learning more about MCAN or helping with their cause for higher education, visit www.micollegeaccess.org.