Two young students reading a book in library. University students studying together in class.

Regents approve plan to place a college access advisor in every high school in Utah

The Utah Board of Regents has approved a statewide proposal at its meeting on Friday, September 21, 2018, that will put a permanent, full-time college access advisor in every high school in Utah.

The near-peer college access advisor will help students register for and complete college entrance exams, submit college applications, apply for scholarships and financial aid, and connect them to first year experience programs to ensure a smooth transition from high school to college.

Regents Meeting-3316

When introducing the proposal, Regent Chair Harris Simmons said,

“This is a transformative initiative, and will make more difference in terms of access and the perception that students can affordably complete, than any other initiative since I have seen as a Regent. It will revolutionize the ability of Utah high school students to access college, the impacts of this will be felt for a very, very long time.

Nina Barnes, Regent Vice Chair, stated,

I live in rural Utah, and all of us are around so many folks that are underserved. To have someone there on the front lines helping a student be successful, that’s why we’re all here. I don’t think I’ve ever been excited as a Regent as I am today to be part of this.

Regent Thomas Wright said,

“This is a proud moment to be a member of this Board. Nothing more important than one individual, and if there’s even one person out there who doesn’t know how to access higher education, we know it’s one too many. This is an exciting opportunity for the Board to lead, to affect change for a generation of children, who will grow up and help their children go to college. We are really changing the course of history. It’s never perfect when you start off, we all have small concerns, but there’s nothing we can’t address, nothing we can’t agile-y and athletically fix to make it as perfect as it can be… We’re changing people’s lives, and that’s what this is all about.”

For more Regent discussion, listen to the audio recording of the meeting, starting at the 27-minute mark.

More on the Statewide College Access Advising Program

This statewide college access advising program will be an expansion of the Utah College Advising Corps, which has been operated by the University of Utah since 2007. Under the current program, 12 schools in Utah have a full-time advisor. The Utah College Advising Corps model is proven to improve college enrollment and college graduation rates:

  • Only 49% of Utah high school graduates make it to college immediately after high school. Students in the 12 schools with college access advisors enrolled at a rate of 58%.
  • For every meeting with a college access advisor, students are 13% more likely to enroll in college.
  • For every meeting with a college access advisor, students are 5% more likely to graduate from college.

The approved proposal is to scale the program statewide, under the direction of the Board of Regents, into every high school in Utah by the school year 2021-2022. Anticipated costs of the program are approximately $7 million, with $5,995,000 coming from state tax funds and the remainder found in internal reallocations from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. The Board will prioritized the $5,995,000 as part of the approved unified budget request in preparation for the 2019 legislative session.