By Kayla Wiles, Columnist
Starting in fall 2017, South Carolina will be launching a program for recent college graduates to advise underserved high schoolers on post-secondary opportunities.
The program, called the College Advising Corps (CAC), already exists nationally in 15 other states. The Duke Endowment and J. Marion Sims Foundation selected Furman University to partner with in developing South Carolina’s first CAC.
“The J. Marion Sims Foundation had done a community assessment [in Lancaster and Chester Counties],” said Gary Clark, the director of Furman’s CAC. “One of the things they had found from their pilot of the 18 to 25-year-old group was that these students would like more help in post-high school opportunities and decisions.”
The Furman-CAC partnership hopes to satisfy this need with seven recent graduate advisers to serve four high schools in Lancaster County and three in Chester County. By helping out with the college application process and financial aid, advisers enable guidance counselors to focus more on other responsibilities, Clark said.
Advisers could be Furman alumni or recent graduates from other universities. For current applicants, a college adviser role would be a way to benefit the community while transitioning to a career.
“With a communications degree, I could do pretty much anything,” said senior Sarah Mohr. “This is an opportunity to do something good for somebody while I’m trying to figure out where it is that I want to be.”
Other applicants believe that serving as an adviser could provide experience in the field for working in educational settings.
“I’m hoping that by interviewing for and hopefully getting this position, it will put me in a school environment that will help me understand if educational psychology is really what I want to do,” said senior psychology and history major Kaitlyn Singleton.
Each of the seven advisers will receive a stipend of $24,930 and an extra $5,815 to repay college loans or put towards graduate school tuition. If the advisers stay for a second year, they could receive the same funding again.
“About 70 percent of the first-year advisers return for a second year nationally,” Clark said. “We’re looking at it as a pilot for getting things started. We’ll be working to continue to secure funding and there’s a possibility of expanding it to other schools in South Carolina.”