Improving access to higher education became a priority when the Jackson Community Foundation unveiled The Jackson Legacy Scholarship Program in 2008. In order to bring college access awareness to Jackson County residents, the College & Career Access Center opened its doors to the community in May of 2008; assisting both traditional and non-traditional students in attaining their education and career goals. The CCAC has faithfully supported local school districts to improve student success in three ways:
- Ensuring that students are prepared to enter college or begin their career
- Facilitating navigation through the 'college access' process
- Providing comprehensive information on all financial options
The College & Career Access Center welcomes visitors with the mission of informing and encouraging students that post-secondary education is indeed possible under all circumstances. The center encourages students to view education as a means of achieving their goals after high school graduation. For some, this may mean a 2 - 4 year college or university. Others may view graduation as a time to become career oriented. In that case, education may mean entry into trade school, enlistment into the military, attainment of a specific certification, or entry into the workforce by other means.
The Center was created to provide a continuum of support and coordination to assist students and families in understanding, accessing, and utilizing available support systems within schools and the community. Assisting students in academic success, while decreasing barriers to learning, effectively prepares them for post-secondary education and ultimately successful entry into the workforce. Our College & Career Advisors participate in post-secondary planning events within each of the 13 Connected School districts as well. These events provide parents and students with career planning tools as well as scholarship and financial aid resources. The CCAC also assists the Jackson Community Foundation with the Jackson Legacy Program as well as various other local scholarships.
The College & Career Access Center is grant funded; receiving financial support from local, state, and private donors. The Jackson Crossing Mall provides the in-kind donation of space. We would like to sincerely thank all of those who have supported our goals and our mission of assisting students in reaching for higher education!
The Four Seasons
The College & Career Access Center advisors provide 1-on-1 personal advising and consultation, covering the Four Seasons of college planning: Applications, Scholarships, FAFSA, and Decision Time. The seasons follow a standard school year schedule and each season presents a number of tasks for the student to achieve toward college preparation. The CCAC assists in the navigation of this preparation process.
Applications: run from August through November. Our advisors keep students informed of deadlines stipulated by the various institutions as well as applicable eligibility and document requirements. Some of the applications we assist with include: the FAFSA, scholarship applications, 2 - 4 year colleges and universities, skilled trade or apprenticeship programs, and military enlistment. One of our major initiatives each year is to gear up and assist in managing College Application Week, which occurs annually at the end of October/beginning of November.
Scholarships: run from November through March. The College & Career Access Center provides each school with monthly scholarship listings of local, state, and national scholarship options. This information is also available on our website. Listings will include information regarding: eligibility, instructions for application, award amounts, and deadline dates. Our advisors research unique scholarships and grant opportunities to assist students in funding traditional and non-traditional programs. Students may also schedule an appointment at the Center to search for scholarships by major or program concentration.
FAFSA: The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a prerequisite for most institutions of higher learning. Submission of the FAFSA application is required in order to obtain federal funding for education. The FAFSA can be quite a complicated process. Partly, this is due to the fact that the form requests detailed tax and income information, typically from student and parent or guardian. The College & Career Access Center advisors will walk the student (and parent), step by step, through the FAFSA process.
Decision Time: May 1st of each year is known as Decision Day. The consultations our advisors provide throughout the school year are focused on providing graduating Seniors resources, knowledge, and confidence in making their definitive post-secondary decisions by this date. Decision time can be seen as the culminating result of the other three seasons. The first week of May is also a time for celebrating the diligence and hard work that each senior has committed to their post-secondary goals. Our team takes pride in supporting and assisting in the celebrations and ceremonial events held in each school district, to honor their graduating seniors.
The Five Frontiers
These consultations are designed for students intending to pursue careers within the skilled trades or direct entry into the workforce; covering the Five Frontiers of career planning: Career Assessments, Resume and Cover Letters, Interviewing and Soft Skills, Job Shadow Support, and Employment Exploration. Each frontier covers steps or skill development that prepare students for productive career paths.
Career Assessments: Career assessments are beneficial tools which allow students to explore their aptitudes, interests, and overall values as they consider productive career paths. Our advisors utilize modules such as Act Profile, Meyer and Briggs, or Career Cruising, designed to offer personalized evaluations and interest inventories. Students may then view a number of potential career options as well the training requirements, income expectations, and predicted growth and demand associated with each option.
Resumes and Cover Letters: Most often, a solid resume and cover letter offer the initial introduction to prospective employers. CCAC advisors assist in the construction of these important documents, including: appropriate resume type, format and layout, proofreading for grammar and content, and suggestion of key words and descriptions designed to gain the readers' attention. Advisors also assist students in selecting content that highlights the student's academic and extracurricular achievements, transferable skills, and employment experience.
Interviewing and Soft Skills: The development of strong interviewing skills is critical to successful employment and also to long-term career achievement. Advisors assist in each area of skill development: advice on professional appearance, eye contact, and other areas of consideration in creating a positive impression. Advisors conduct mock interviews to develop skills and ensure the candidate feels confident in preparation and presentation for success.
Job Shadow Support: Job shadows offer the opportunity for students to gain a first-hand, real world look at the type of career they hope to pursue. Often, a shadowing experience confirms interest or offers an unexpected new perspective. Job shadow opportunities are valuable and educational. Our advisors support job shadow coordination with local businesses, allowing students to spend a day on the site of an employer that aligns with their career interests. Students may spend one shift or be invited for multiple visits, depending on the employer and capacity for shadowing.
Employment Exploration: Advisors assist clients in each area of research and exploration, skill development, application and preparation for employment positions.