2023-24 advisers posed for group photo
Ally Clement with Basset High School students
VCAC Alumni Celebrate UVA Homecoming
College advisers at MLK memorial

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The Virginia College Advising Corps at UVA

[Student One]
As a first-generation college student myself, the whole college process was kind of foreign to me.

[Student Two]
What do I do? What is the next step for me? How do I get through this?

[Joy Pugh]
From the college search to figuring out financial aid, the college application process is so complex. School counselors are dealing with so much in the school and may not have the time to meet with students about college aspirations and goals. So we're there to sort of knock down those barriers. The Virginia College Advising Corps, which is an AmeriCorps program, started at UVA in 2005. We are a public service program, and that public service is in the DNA of UVA. Now it's a national program called the College Advising Corps. Our mission is to assist low income, first generation, and under-represented students in all regions of the Commonwealth to enter and complete higher education. Two year colleges, four year colleges, certificate programs, trade schools.

[Sierra Swisher]
We'll look at things like size. Does a student want a big school or a small school? Location-- do they want to be in a city or in a rural area? We'll look at private versus public. When I'm talking to students, you get to hear, like, my dream is to be a doctor, or my dream is to be a teacher.

[Donnell Wright]
If you are interested in science, then do something in science. If you are interested in math, if you're interested in social work-- let's be realistic about what exactly do we want from ourselves so we can actually make those proper steps.

[Joy Pugh]
For many students, college doesn’t seem like a reality until they meet with a college adviser. We are committed to the idea that every student, regardless of their financial situation regardless of who they are, should have access to higher education. Many of our advisers were low income, first generation themselves.

[Donnell Wright]
As a first generation student, I didn't know anything. Now, as a college adviser, I'm here with all these students in a similar scenario, I can answer those questions to help them get to where they need to go.

[Joy Pugh]
The college adviser role is not just about the nuts and bolts of the process. Their energy and support helps to unlock the potential of every student to continue in their educational journey.

[Sierra Swisher]
Education is one of those things that once you have it, no one can take it away from you. And I think for students who maybe don't believe in themselves, that's a game changer. So to be able to walk alongside students as they realize that is why I love this organization.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[Donnell Wright]
I love every piece of the job, and I love seeing those students, you know, get that level of success, getting that diploma, and just seeing how great they're going to be.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Mission

Increasing the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented high school students who enter and complete higher education.

59
College Advisers
62
High Schools
14000
+
Seniors

In the News

This year, the Virginia College Advising Corps is offering virtual appointments to any high school senior in Virginia through June 28 who needs help with either the FAFSA or the Virginia Alternative State Aid Application.

Last week, Serve Virginia hosted Virginia Delegate Tony Wilt (34 district) for an AmeriCorps site visit with Virginia College Advising Corps (VCAC) at Harrisonburg High School (HHS). Joining our team for the visit were Dr. Michael Richards, Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent; Joy Pugh, VCAC Executive Director; Hai Yan Dendy, VCAC Assistant Director; Savanna Lester, Harrisonburg High School Counselor; Rosie Chisholm, VCAC adviser and AmeriCorps member; and her students.

On October 5, 2023, more than 300 students from 23 high schools across Virginia traveled to the University of Virginia for a special tour.

The students all attend schools served by the Virginia College Advising Corps, a UVA-based public-service organization that assigns recent college graduates to selected high schools across the state. The graduates work with high school seniors for whom college is not a guarantee, including potential first-generation college students and students from low-income families.

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