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White House, HGSE to Host College Access Event

By Jill Anderson on July 8, 2014 10:27 AM


On Monday, July 28, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in partnership with the White House’s College Opportunity Agenda, will convene leaders in education to discuss strategies to increase access to college for Americans. An anticipated 150 thought leaders and decision makers will gather at Harvard to discuss how improvements in school counseling and college advising can bring about greater postsecondary opportunities for Americans.

Last week at the American School Counselor Association Annual Conference (ASCA), First Lady Michelle Obama told the audience, “School counseling should not be an extra or a luxury just for school systems that can afford it. School counseling is a necessity to ensure that all our young people get the education they need to succeed in today’s economy.”

She added, “I’m thrilled that the White House will be partnering with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with ASCA, and with other organizations to host a special event on college counseling at the end of July. And, together, we’ll be coming up with ambitious new agenda items to improve training, professional development, and support for school counselors.”

The July convening follows a White House-sponsored College Opportunity Summit in January during which President Obama announced 100 new commitments to expand college opportunity such as increasing the pool of students preparing for college through early interventions and leveling the playing field in college advising and SAT/ACT test preparation. Since the event, the First Lady has continued efforts to inspire American students to advance their education past high school through the Reach Higher initiative.

“If we hope to meet President Obama’s goal that the U.S. have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, encouraging and supporting college aspirations among our young people is critical.  The upcoming conference will bring together national leaders, top scholars, and policymakers to discuss the latest research and best practices in school counseling and college access,” said Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan.  “I am honored that we have the opportunity to partner with the White House on this project, and I am confident that this discussion will spur not just new ideas, but real action toward expanding college access for all students.”

This event, planned in collaboration with the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the American School Counselor Association, and the National College Access Network, will bring K–12 and college-level educators, district leaders, researchers, funders, and nonprofit leaders from around the country to advance an ambitious agenda to strengthen school counseling and college advising with the goal of creating greater post-secondary opportunities for all students. The event will highlight innovative practices in the areas of professional development and training, college counseling tools, and exemplar initiatives and partnerships, with the expectation that this will propel new ideas and actions.

“Our current system of support for college access is fragmented and therefore ultimately ineffective. To deliver on the promise of the White House Opportunity Agenda, we must identify and scale innovative ways for school counselors to lead college readiness efforts,” said Senior Lecturer Mandy Savitz-Romer, a national expert in college access and school counseling who will help lead the convening. “The First Lady's interest in building a strong system of college counseling shows just how committed she and the President are to ensuring equitable access to a postsecondary degree for all students. I am delighted that HGSE can provide leadership for this initiative.”

PRESS NOTE: Reporters interested in covering this event should contact Jill Anderson at 617-496-1884.

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