February 2024 IllinoisCAN Newsletter

Illinois College Access Network

Illinois College Access Network Newsletter

February 2024

Welcome to IllinoisCAN's monthly newsletter.

The mission of IllinoisCAN is to improve postsecondary access and success for low-income and first-generation college students in Illinois. IllinoisCAN builds the capacity and effectiveness of college access organizations to help students reach their goals. IllinoisCAN monthly newsletters are intended to be for us and by us – professionals around the state working to improve college access.

In this issue:
FAN – Family Action Network

ISAC is pleased to continue sponsorship of the Family Action Network (FAN) events, which are always free and open to the public. FAN curates a high-quality speakers series presenting fresh ideas that elevate minds and expand hearts to help create an informed and compassionate community. Events co-sponsored by ISAC this month include:
  • Everyday Dharma: 8 Essential Practices for Finding Success and Joy in Everything You Do – Monday, February 12, 2024, at 7 p.m.
  • Attention Span: Find Focus, Fight Distraction – Tuesday, February 13, 2024, at 7 p.m.
  • Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There – Tuesday, February 27, 2024, at 7 p.m.
If you're not able to attend a scheduled in-person or virtual (Zoom) FAN event, all events are recorded. Visit the FAN website to view the library of past events and recordings.

Call to Action: ISACorps Externship Hosts

Looking to fill a role in your organization soon? Interested in mentoring a young professional? Then consider hosting an ISACorps extern this spring! Get the passion and skills of an ISACorps member while giving them a chance to gain an inside look at your organization and profession.

As a component of the professional development opportunities available to ISACorps members, ISAC has developed an externship program – a short-term job shadow experience to assist Corps members with career planning. This opportunity is for second and third year ISACorps members preparing to transition into a new role after their service agreement ends on May 31st. The length of time and dates are to be determined between the extern and the host. The days do not need to be consecutive.

If you are interested in hosting an ISACorps extern, please complete the interest form at https://forms.office.com/g/g8n4TpaJHG. Questions can be directed to Renee Martinez at renee.martinez@illinois.gov.

Learning and Earning by Degrees

"Between 2010 and 2020, the proportion of US adults who hold college degrees increased by 6.7 percentage points, from 38.5 percent to 45.2 percent. According to Learning and Earning by Degrees: Gains in College Degree Attainment Have Enriched the Nation and Every State, but Racial and Gender Inequality Persists, this rising tide of educational attainment will lead to $14.2 trillion in additional net earnings for workers over their lifetimes, bolstering the US economy through additional spending and tax revenue. Beyond the monetary gains associated with increased educational attainment, individuals with higher levels of education also have better health outcomes, a stronger resistance to authoritarianism, and higher rates of civic engagement, among other benefits."

"However, while all demographic groups experienced increases in college degree attainment, gaps in attainment and earnings persist between white adults and adults from marginalized racial/ethnic groups, undermining the capacity of education – by itself – to create an economically just world."

To view the full report, visit: cew.georgetown.edu/AttainmentGains.

Nine AP Exams Go Fully Digital in May 2025

"For the May 2025 AP Exam administration, the exams for nine AP subjects will be delivered digitally. Paper exams cannot be ordered for these subjects, unless students have approved accommodations requiring paper testing."

To see the list of subjects, visit: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/exam-administration-ordering-scores/digital-ap-exams/nine-exams-digital-2025?SFMC_cid=EM1107620-&rid=389530765.

Illinois Education and Career Success Network Annual Conference

The 11th annual Illinois Education and Career Success Network Conference – Awareness to Action: Promoting Equity in Education and Careers – will take place on Thursday, February 29, 2024 from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at Moraine Valley Community College. The conference will be an engaging learning opportunity designed for leaders from secondary and postsecondary education, local and state government, community-based organizations, policy advocates, grant makers, employers, and other stakeholders interested in equitably increasing postsecondary attainment in Illinois."

Registration is $50 per attendee and includes conference materials, breakfast, lunch and snacks. Professional development hours and continuing education credits are available.

Learn more and register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/awareness-to-action-the-2024-success-network-conference-registration-739576873337.

Spots are filling up fast!

Students of Color Thinking About Going Back to School Need Answers from Colleges – And Fast

"The Lumina Foundation partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) on a series of research projects to find out how colleges can encourage adults to pursue degrees – especially Black, Latino, and Native American learners. The projects include AIR's study on the influences behind enrollment decisions; a study by Willis A. Jones, Ph.D., Southern Methodist University, on adult learners' social networks, and a study by Jenesis Ramirez, Ph.D., Florida International University, on students enrolled in FIU's Urban Potential Laboratories. Many who completed that 14-week credential program opted to enroll in a four-year degree."

To learn more, visit https://www.luminafoundation.org/news-and-views/students-of-color-thinking-about-going-back-to-school-need-answers-from-colleges-and-fast/.

Contextualized High School Performance: Evidence to Inform Equitable Holistic Test-Optional and Test-Free Admissions Policies

"Holistic admissions practices require evaluating an applicant's credentials in light of the opportunities available in their high school context. High school grades, test scores, and course taking are clearly related to college grades, retention, and graduation. But does performance in high school context also relate to college success? Building a unique dataset of 2.3 million students in a Midwestern state, we find that contextualized indicators of high school grades and standardized tests are strongly associated with student success in college, validating their use in holistic admissions. Contextualized grades have a stronger and more consistent association with college success than contextualized test scores, and may be most helpful at test-optional, test-free, and broader-access colleges that have yet to adopt holistic admissions practices."

Read the article at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/23328584231197413.

Rural America is Having a Moment. The Spotlight is on its Workforce and What Can Be Done to Meet That Moment.

"With an aging population and younger people leaving, there is an urgency to investing in workforce training and making people aware of jobs that already exist in rural communities."

Read about the impacts of COVID-19 and technology innovations, and the strategies to build the rural workforce, at https://workingnation.com/rural-america-is-having-a-moment-the-spotlight-is-on-its-workforce-and-what-can-be-done-to-meet-that-moment/.

Prioritizing Foster Students' Success in Higher Ed

"College completion for youth with experience in the foster care system remains low, with about half of former foster children completing high school, 2 to 6 percent earning a two-year degree, and 3 to 4 percent earning a four-year degree, according to data from the National Foster Youth Institute."

"A May 2023 report from the University of California, Los Angeles, found support services for foster youth help bridge their unique needs through advising, educational and social programming, and case management. However, the report found there are still opportunities to improve financial support and success measures to help these students."

"Inside Higher Ed found four new or successful collegiate programs to support students formerly in foster care."

Learn about the programs at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/student-success/college-experience/2024/01/25/colleges-and-universities-guide-former-foster.

Exploring Innovative Paths to Pay for College

"Paying for college and other post-secondary education continues to be a challenge for many. Already, 44 million Americans owe more than $1.7 trillion in student loan balances. At the same time, there's strong evidence that lifetime earnings increase for those who attend and complete college or other post-secondary education."

"The guests for this podcast are Ethan Pollack, a senior director at Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit aimed at expanding economic opportunity, and Andrew Smalley, an education policy expert at National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)."

Listen to the podcast at https://ncsl-podcasts.simplecast.com/episodes/exploring-innovative-paths-to-pay-for-college-oas-episode-202.

Proof Points: Most College Kids are Taking at Least One Class Online, Even Long After Campuses Reopened

"The pandemic not only disrupted education temporarily; it also triggered permanent changes. One that is quietly taking place at colleges and universities is a major, expedited shift to online learning. Even after campuses reopened and the health threat diminished, colleges and universities continued to offer more online courses and added more online degrees and programs. Some brick-and-mortar schools even switched to online only."

"The sheer numbers are staggering – more than 10 million college students were learning online in the fall of 2022. Compared to before the pandemic, an additional 1.5 million students were taking all of their courses online and 1.35 million more students were taking at least one course online – even as the total number of college students fell by more than a million between 2019 and 2022."

Read more at https://hechingerreport.org/proof-points-most-college-kids-are-taking-at-least-one-class-online-even-long-after-campuses-reopened/.

Do you have events, news, requests, or resources to share with college access colleagues?

IllinoisCAN monthly newsletters are intended to be for us and by us – professionals around the state working to move college access forward. For inclusion in the next newsletter, send content by February 26th to ISAC.IllinoisCAN@illinois.gov.

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