We are extremely proud of the college culture we are creating in Utica Community Schools.
This culture means – and will continue to mean – opening college and career doors for our students by emphasizing the importance of post-secondary experiences – whether that is a technical school, community college or four-year university.
As a result, our students are making conscious decisions to increase the rigor of their course offerings and take advantage of the Advanced Placement opportunities in our secondary schools.
These decisions continue to make a difference. Scholarship offerings for our students exceed more than $30 million annually. It is not unusual for UCS families to save a full year of college costs as a result of their child’s AP success. Our graduation rate at 90 percent is 14 points higher that the state average.
But there is still more work to be done.
For this reason, Utica Community Schools is introducing a new tool that will assist families in navigating the road that leads from students envisioning their careers to realizing and creating their dream jobs.
It is also a tool that is unique to UCS students, as we are one of the first public school districts in Michigan to use this system.
The tool, called Naviance, supports the college and career process by being a universal resource tool for everything post-secondary – resources, applications, admission requirements, financial aid, course recommendations and scholarship opportunities.
The system provides students with a variety of features, including college research tools, course planning, and career and goal assessments to help connect what they are doing in school to what they would like to do once they graduate.
These features are personalized for each student based on their career interests and goals.
Even better, the program takes parent involvement to a new level by making them active partners in this planning process.
An on-line tool called Family Connection provides families with access to resources and other collaborative activities that are supporting their students’ college and career-readiness activities.
These resources include a resume builder that provides students with a structured approach with intuitive instructions. The planning tool also walks students through completion of the Common Application for college admission and targets scholarship opportunities based student’s specific career and post-secondary choices.
Students who piloted the program this fall report that they love the expanded post-secondary opportunities that are identified for them in their field of interest. Students are finding a wide range of post-secondary institutions that support them in their career goals.
Other students and families like the test-prep features that are saving them both time and money. The free service gives students access to tutorials that systematically walks them through what they need to know to be successful on college entrance exams.
Naviance is currently being introduced to all UCS sophomores and juniors. By the end of the school year, all secondary students will have access to the system with parents having this resource by the Fall 2015.
Our college culture is about making sure that our students are on a solid path to their successful future.
The art of navigating that path has just become clearer for our students and their families.