We encourage you to review the following reports, articles, and videos – each one provides relevant information and context for topics to be discussed during the NOW FOR NEXT Workshop.
Where We Are:
- The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) recently published the 2022 Higher Education Almanac. There are a few promising trends, but overall, Alaska ranks last on numerous indicators.
- In January 2021, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) published the Alaska Performance Scholarship Program Review and Recommendations. This 10-year review includes relevant and timely information regarding scholarship eligibility since its inception as well as access indicators that became clear as a result of COVID-19’s impact on test waivers. The report also includes recommendations for making the scholarship more accessible.
- Preparing for life after high school starts much earlier than senior year. Our experiences as younger students shape our vision of what’s possible and inspire us to believe in the future. Students as young as 5th grade begin choosing and opting out of career choices. According to the 2022 School Climate and Connectedness Survey, about two-thirds of Alaska’s middle school students say they “want very much to get more education after high school”, compared with 90% nationally. For more resources on how your district can implement academic and career exploration opportunities in elementary and middle school, visit acpe.alaska.gov/K-8.
- Financial planning is another important component of preparation. Students whose families have set up savings accounts for college and career training are three times more likely to pursue postsecondary education. To find out about education savings accounts, check out Alaska529.
- If a student and their family complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), they are more likely to stay in school through graduation. Alaska currently has one of the lowest FAFSA completion rates in the nation, leaving $9 to $15 million of federal aid on the table each year. Working towards improving FAFSA completion, ACPE has partnered with education stakeholders across Alaska for the Alaska FAFSA Completion Initiative.
- Families have always played an important role in guiding Alaska’s children, but they may not have the tools, resources, and experiences to help them navigate a complex and ever-changing landscape of college and career options. Meanwhile, the sense of connection and purpose that families are well positioned to foster in have often gone underappreciated when we think about the postsecondary preparation checklist.
Where We Can Go From Here:
- Motivational speaker, generational expert, and author, Mark C. Perna, recently spoke with Alaskans about unleashing passion, purpose, and performance in younger generations. Here is a five-minute video to learn more about the formula that is helping students connect, engage, and find their why.
- This Washington Post article outlines how rural communities are improving outcomes by going local and investing in human connections.
- At a recent AlaskaCAN Fall Convening, participants reflected on barriers and solutions to accessing postsecondary education and career training, and made recommendations for addressing those barriers.
- The President of the Alaska Pacific University, Dr. Janelle Vanasse, has also done extensive research on this topic. As part of her doctorate, she created Rethinking Readiness for Alaska Native Students, a framework and assessment tool for schools to use to evaluate how they can build on students’ strengths.
- For a long time the pitch for postsecondary has been “be like me: go to school, get a high paying job, and move to the big city.” That has not always resonated with students or their families. Mark C. Perna encourages us to ask students not “what career do you want?” but “what lifestyle do you want?” This question is all the more important in Alaska, where students and their families may value contribution to their community and connection to the land, more than a big paycheck in a far-off city.
- What’s more, a student’s connection to their community and cultural identity can be a postsecondary strength, helping them connect with a broader purpose and persist through the challenging moments. Research finds that indigenous college students with a strong cultural identity have higher GPAs (Huffman 2001).
- Counselor Dannielle Carlson makes insightful recommendations about how K-12, higher education, and Alaska Native service organizations can better support students in her paper: Identifying and Lessening Barriers for Alaska Native Students Pursuing a Postsecondary Education: A Guide For Educators.