The University of Virginia launched the Virginia College Advising Corps (VCAC) in the fall of 2005 as a public service program to address the widening gap in college access for low income, first generation, and under-represented students. Our mission is to increase the number of these students entering and completing higher education.
The Corps places recent college graduates in high schools throughout the Commonwealth to work alongside school counselors on college and career readiness. These near-peer college advisers assist high school students and their families with college searches, essay writing, SAT/ACT prep, college applications, FAFSA completion, scholarship searches, college visits, and successfully transitioning to post-secondary education. Since 2005, our advisers have done the following:
- 278,366 1-on-1 advising sessions with students
- 78,755 classroom visits and workshops
- 27,913 meetings with parents and families
- 9,640 campus tours
- 13,137 assisted on SAT/ACT preparation
- 35,773 FAFSAs completed
- Over $530 million financial aid dollars secured
Currently, 55 advisers serve in 59 partner high schools. The program became the model for the national College Advising Corps, now partnering with 21 universities and over 800 high schools across the nation. VCAC is a joint venture of the University of Virginia and the national College Advising Corps, and is an AmeriCorps program.
The Need for an Advising Corps
- Many low-income, first-generation-college, and underrepresented students are not receiving the advice and support they need to identify and enroll in colleges where they will persist to degree – with lasting consequences not only for those students, but also for the nation.
- Nearly 25% of low-income students who score in the top quartile on standardized tests will never go to college.
- College access studies have found that the complexities of college and financial aid applications are a serious barrier for low-income students, many of whom are the first in their families to consider college.
- The national student-to-school counselor ratio of 455:1 means that the average student spends 20 minutes per year talking to a counselor.
- According to the Department of Education, 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs today require post-secondary education, yet the U.S. lags behind other nations in young adults enrolled in higher education.