Collaborative planning prepares students for success

December 26th, 2014

News Coverage:

Collaborative planning prepares students for success

Posted: Thursday, December 25, 2014 11:00 pm

It is estimated that by 2025, more than 60 percent of jobs will require some type of college degree or certification. The Big Goal Collaborative, an education initiative of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Vision 2020 effort, is working to bring together community resources to help all stakeholders positively impact Northeast Indiana and prepare the workforce of the future.

In order to accomplish this goal, it is imperative that students work with their parents, educators and community stakeholders, as well as business and industry, to develop a plan that will best prepare students in Northeast Indiana for college and career.

While Northeast Indiana’s high school graduation hovers around 90 percent, the most recent data available from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education ( indicates that only 61 percent of Northeast Indiana high school students went on to enroll in college. The state rate for the same time period was 66 percent. There’s clearly a leak in the pipeline, and if our region is serious about meeting the Big Goal, we must work together to plug that leak.

One extremely simple, but often overlooked, strategy for addressing these issues without duplicating efforts is to capitalize on the significant resources already available through organizations and initiatives like the Indiana Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

As business and community leaders, it is incumbent upon us to help make students, parents, educators and any other engaged stakeholder aware of the significant resources available for students and families to plan for postsecondary attainment.

The Indiana Department of Education has created resources that start with students as young as early elementary and go through their senior year of high school. Plans for postsecondary attainment become a “living document” that are revisited regularly and are revised as interests change and new skills are discovered. While these plans are not intended to create one singular path through school and into college and career that can never be changed or altered, it is clear that students begin to create an identity about themselves at a young age that will impact their future.

Students who view themselves as goal­driven and are future-­thinking are more likely to remain engaged in school and find success in school. So the next step is to be aware of the resources available in Indiana to help make student success happen.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Indiana Department of Education and Indiana Department of Workforce Development partnered in the creation of another powerful available resource called Learn More Indiana, which is described as “Indiana’s guide to student success.”

Through Learn More Indiana, hard copy magazines have been designed to target students in grades K-­2, 3-­5, 6-­8, 9-­10 and 11-­12. Each level is custom designed to be developmentally appropriate with engaging activities that cause students to begin making a plan for their future.

College Go Week!:

College Week Live:

Indiana Career Explorer:

Cash for College:

College Choice 529:

For students and parents who may not have access to the magazines, Learn More Indiana has launched an extremely robust website that further enhances the print material. Students create unique profiles that they can continually access and update as they move their educational careers. Parents can create their own profiles allowing them to learn more about applying to colleges, completing financial aid applications and helping students maximize their postsecondary options while still in high school.

Within the Learn More Indiana website, links to other extremely useful sites exist to provide further details and information. One of the most powerful sites is one that can be utilized by Hoosiers of all ages, Indiana Career Explorer. Indiana Career Explorer’s career interest inventory and activities provide users with feedback connecting them to possible future careers.

Another link, College Week Live, allows parents and students to connect directly with college admission officers across the country. This type of resource allows for communication with college experts who can help prospective students better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their university, what the admissions process is like and what degrees are available.

Trip to College focuses on the college selection and application process and includes key deadlines. For more information about financing college whether that be through loans, grants, scholarships, 529 savings accounts or other savings methods, Cash for College and College Choice 529 provide users with a variety of ways to be prepared. Indiana also features a tax credit of up to 20 percent, or $1,000 per year, for 529 college savings accounts.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of resources available to our community to help students develop paths to postsecondary education, but Big Goal Collaborative’s High School Graduation Action Team believes that the more the community, and in particular business and industry, can help promote these resources to students, parents and educators, the more likely Northeast Indiana is to reach the Big Goal: To increase the percentage of adults with high quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

About the authors

Wylie Sirk, Ph.D., has served over 35 years as an educator and school administrator. He currently serves as a consultant to Ivy Tech Northeast and is a visiting instructor for the educational leadership program at Indiana University – ­Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Joshua Wenning is the executive director for the Region 8 Education Service Center and Indiana ASCD. He holds two master’s degrees in education and administration and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana Tech in global leadership.