Today is Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gov. Bill Haslam's Monthly Column

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Tennessee is seeing incredible growth in students progressing to four-year universities, community colleges and technical schools.

Just last year, Tennessee's college-going rate grew by nearly 5 percent, community college enrollment for first-time freshmen increased by 25 percent and remediation rates continued to drop for first-time college students. Bottom line: more Tennesseans are going to college and less of them need to take remedial classes when they get there.

To help maintain this momentum and grow our success, the state has launched a new program called Advise TN.

Advise TN, administered through our Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), will put college counselors in 30 high schools across the state this fall, providing additional advising services to 10,000 juniors and seniors as they embark on their path to higher education.

Based on best practices identified in Tennessee and across the country, Advise TN counselors, who are being hired and trained this summer, will work alongside existing school counselors, educators, parents and local partners to raise their school's college-going rate with efforts such as one-on-one college planning sessions, financial aid instruction and application events.

Research tells us that having a school-wide college-going culture - of students knowing that college isn't only an OPTION for them but an EXPECTATION - is one of the best indicators of whether students will pursue higher education.

Advise TN will put one more adult in a student's life focused on helping students make the transition from high school to college.

Advise TN is accepting applications from eligible high schools - those with a college-going rate less than the state average - through August 12. Schools will be chosen through a competitive process and must show a commitment to boosting their college-going rate.

For more information and to find an application to participate in the program, please visit http://www.tn.gov/thec/topic/advisetn.

Three years ago, we launched the Drive to 55 to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.

We are changing the conversation in Tennessee about what it means to go to college As for the goal of reaching 55 percent, we are currently at 37 percent. And we're not taking our foot off the gas.

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