Press Release from the West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) is helping more than 100,000 students from 420 schools across the state learn about education after they graduate from high school during College Application and Exploration Week, Nov. 5-9.
Today kicks off the annual College Application and Exploration Week celebration, which is coordinated by the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV), a partnership of the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Community and Technical College System (CTCS) and the West Virginia Department of Education.
The event helps students explore options for education and training beyond high school as appropriate for their grade level.
Younger students will explore the concept of what college is and begin making the connection between colleges and careers, while high school students will receive assistance with completing college applications and finding the right postsecondary pathway for them. Students will learn about two- and four-year degrees, skillset certificates, career and technical programs, apprenticeships and military service.
The campaign helps to address the gap between the number of West Virginians with a postsecondary credential and the number of West Virginians who will need a postsecondary credential to meet future workforce demands. According to the West Virginia’s Climb initiative, fewer than one-third of West Virginians hold an associate degree or higher, yet in the next few years, 60 percent of working-aged West Virginians will need a certificate or degree to maintain the state’s current workforce and attract new employers.
Carolyn Long, Interim Chancellor of the Commission, expressed her desire that students take advantage of the activities their schools have planned this week.
“Site coordinators statewide have been preparing for months to host activities that will help their students begin – or continue – thinking about college, no matter their grade level or circumstance,” said Long. “My hope is that students fully participate in the events their schools have prepared for them, whether it means learning the very definition of college or sitting down to complete postsecondary applications. We want to see students truly benefit from the week’s activities.”
Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the CTCS, noted the importance of planning for postsecondary education at a young age.
“Many people mistakenly believe that the time to begin planning for college is high school,” Tucker said. “This is simply not true. Time and time again, we see that students who begin thinking about college as early as preschool and develop a college-bound mindset ultimately make a successful transition to postsecondary education. Even if the conversation is as simple as asking young students what they want to be when they grow up, the link between their dream careers and appropriate postsecondary pathways can be made early to facilitate age-appropriate discussions of college.”
Last year, more than 100,000 students participated in College Application and Exploration Week, and many of them completed college applications as part of the awareness effort. In 2017, more than 80 percent of the college applications that had been submitted statewide by the time of the event’s conclusion had been submitted by students taking part in the celebration.
The initiative is one of CFWV’s three college-planning milestones. The first milestone, which is the statewide FAFSA Completion Campaign, began Oct. 1 with the launch of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and will continue through the April 15 deadline to complete the application in time to apply for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program. The last milestone, which is College Decision Day, will celebrate seniors’ decisions to seek education or training beyond high school. Those events will occur between April 15 and June 15, 2019. Schools that participate in all three milestones and meet other requirements will be recognized next fall as a CFWV Champion of College Access and Success.
The Commission manages the CFWV initiative with support from the WVCTCS and the West Virginia Department of Education. To learn more about the initiative, visit cfwvconnect.com/college-application-and-exploration-week.