News: Member News

Dynamic Duo Helps Detroit Students Get Degrees

Thursday, October 11, 2018  
Posted by: Lindsay Broderick, Staff Writer
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About eight years ago, Get Schooled was founded with a mission "to meet young people where they are and arm them with the inspiration and information they need to successfully navigate high school through whatever postsecondary option is suited for their career interests and goals," according to the organization’s Executive Director Marie Groark.

Today, the New York City-based nonprofit serves about 1.5 million students across the country every year and works with schools and students in all 50 states. The main Get Schooled website provides both general college information that can be used by any student, regardless of where they live, and information that is specifically tailored to each state. While the organization has a national presence, sometimes, Groark says, "there's a region where we double down our resources because of the need, our local partners, and philanthropic support." This was first done in California and then in Detroit.

Since starting its Detroit-specific program, Get Schooled has worked closely with high schools in the area and the Detroit College Access Network (DCAN). The partnership between these organizations is extremely beneficial for students because Get Schooled and DCAN complement each other in the resources they are able to provide. As Groark put it, "DCAN has great local knowledge and expertise, so they help us in terms of identifying key pieces of content and editing our content to make sure it’s A+ for Detroit."

Get Schooled had about 10,000 students in the greater Detroit area when the program was started a year and a half ago. "We were really interested, and we think DCAN was really interested, in how we could work together in a much more deliberate way. And that’s where came from," said Groark.

Initial funding for the partnership came from Get Schooled and DCAN. Eventually, General Motors provided financial support that allowed these two organizations to expand on what they had started, in part by launching the Detroit College Challenge last year. The purpose of the challenge is to encourage students to explore the resources Get Schooled offers on its website, which have been refined over time. Through the partnership with DCAN, Get Schooled has modified the resources on its Detroit website to better serve students in the greater Detroit area.

"What we try to do on the Detroit website with DCAN and GM is try to work with schools just in Detroit and put in information specific to Detroit and Michigan," said Ivana Mladenovic, senior manager of education programs at Get Schooled. She lists some examples of topics discussed on the site, including the Detroit Promise, scholarships specific to Detroit, and the SAT, since every high school junior in Michigan must take this standardized test.

On top of these region-specific resources, the Get Schooled website still provides Detroit students with access to its broader resources, such as FAFSA information and tips on how to healthily deal with anxiety. The Get Schooled overcoming anxiety badge provides students with information on how to recognize anxiety and its causes as well as how to overcome it and help friends who are struggling with anxiety. Groark said the development of the badge was student driven. She said between the release of an MTV study in the fall of 2017 that found the current generation of high school students to be the "most anxiety-ridden generation" of any it had surveyed as well as the increase in students voicing their concerns about anxiety over Get Schooled’s text help line, the organization’s staff saw the need for resources to help the students deal with this. Thus, the overcoming anxiety badge was created.

While its website and text line are tremendous resources for students in Detroit, Get Schooled has no physical presence in the city. Therefore, whenever there is an event being held in Detroit, it is DCAN’s job to do the planning and hosting.

DCAN provides a number of resources and services to high school students in the Detroit area. Ashley Johnson, director of DCAN, explains two of the major ways the organization helps its students. First, it hosts a major event each year called Detroit College Day. During Detroit College Day, DCAN buses all its students to one location for a college fair. The other resource DCAN provides is a series of workshops and panel discussions. The organization aims to have the students it serves participate in two workshops and attend at least two panel discussions. Johnson explains the workshops as sessions with "less than 30 kids in a classroom setting going deep on a topic for about an hour." Workshops cover topics such as FAFSA completion, familiarization with the Get Schooled website, and understanding the HBCU experience. Meanwhile, she says, panels consist of "people who are in the positions that the kids want to obtain." Panels typically include young professionals or college students who speak to the DCAN students about what they wish they had known when they were in high school and the path they took to get where they are.

Both Get Schooled and DCAN offer the students of Detroit tremendous resources to improve their knowledge about the college admissions process. Thanks to the collaboration of these two organizations, many more students in the greater Detroit area are striving to pursue a postsecondary education. 

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