Achieve Success by Improving College Access

 

I can vividly remember the first day I stepped onto the campus of The College of New Jersey. Like the start of any new journey, it was a monumental day in my personal history. Surrounded by thousands of students and faculty, I was overwhelmed with a sense that anything was possible.

It’s a similar feeling for countless students who’ve completed high school and are now looking at a new educational challenge. For many, it’s an inspirational moment that can help change a person’s life for the better. And the ripple effect is huge. Families, friends and communities are changed each time someone chooses to begin a post-secondary journey and they’re even more impacted when the student completes that journey and is ready to enter the workforce with the skills, knowledge and determination needed to be a success.

The problem is, not enough students are starting and completing that postsecondary educational journey. Here in Escambia County, the postsecondary attainment rate is just 40.1 percent. Great success has been made in making sure Escambia County high school students graduate on time, that graduation rate is up to nearly 80 percent. But comparing the high school graduation rate with the postsecondary attainment rate, it’s obvious more work needs to be done to help those successful high school graduates succeed at the next level.

That’s where the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) comes in. That group has a goal of increasing post-secondary achievement to 60 percent in the next seven years.

The $20,000 grant awarded by FCAN to Achieve Escambia is an important first step in that process. Achieve Escambia’s main goal is to help align the many resources in our community so students can be more successful, cradle to career. Improving post-secondary opportunities is an important part of that mission.

Achieve Escambia will use the grant money to bring a variety of people to the table to improve student access to training and education after high school. The partnership will focus not only on increasing college readiness, access and completion; but it will also support collaborative initiatives that can raise attainment rates in tangible ways.

Laurie Meggesin is the executive director of FCAN and from her perspective; it’s the local groups, like Achieve Escambia, that are best suited to close those gaps that exist between the skills of local workers and the needs of current and future employers.

The grant awarded by FCAN to Achieve Escambia is an important first step. Like any young student stepping onto a college or technical school campus, it’s going to take many more steps to reach the goal of 60 percent post-secondary attainment. And those steps can’t be taken by Achieve Escambia alone.

For those of us who’ve journeyed down the post-secondary path, let’s remember what it’s like and commit to helping others find the way. For those who haven’t been down that road, it’s never too late to make a positive impact. Whether in your own life or in the life of someone who wants better for themselves, their family and their community, now is a great time to join the effort to help more Escambia County students succeed at the next level. Together we as a community can help more people receive the training and education they need after high school so that more people can live the life they’ve dreamed about.

Kimberly Krupa is director of Achieve Escambia. She can be reached at director@achieveescambia.org.

 
Jill Thomas