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Thursday, June 30, 2022
HomeEducationResponding to Tennessee's College-Going Crisis With A Students-First Mindset

Responding to Tennessee’s College-Going Crisis With A Students-First Mindset

TN AchievesNashville, TN – In the early knoxAchieves days, I was having a conversation with one of my favorite community college presidents who shared a phrase that I have attempted to remember, especially during a hard day.  

He said, “There are no education emergencies.”  This obviously rang true to me, considering I have now shared this sentiment with my team many times over the last 14 years; however, I now feel the need to shift this mindset.

Today, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission released its 2021 College-Going Rate Report, outlining the percentage of students who enroll in college directly following high school graduation.  Because of the pandemic, this number has dropped 9 percentage points in the last two years moving Tennessee from 61.8 percent in 2019 to 52.8 percent in 2021.
This certainly feels like an education emergency.
At tnAchieves, we are constantly presented with challenges.  This is not a new space for our team.  We have never shied away from hard work, leveraging challenges to create positive outcomes for students. As such, we find ourselves READY.  I would even say the team is FIRED UP about meeting this challenge head on.
We stand alongside THEC in its call to action and share these initial internal strategies to address our state’s BIG challenge:

  • Thanks to our private donors, Governor Lee, the General Assembly, the Haslam Family Foundation, SCORE and THEC, we are expanding our proactive coaching model, COMPLETE.  Now, every economically disadvantaged TN Promise student will not only have a volunteer mentor to help them enroll in college but also a COMPLETE coach to proactively support them to a college credential.  They will also have access to completion grant funding each semester to address barriers like food, transportation, tech and housing insecurities.  We are doing our part to level the playing field for ALL students.  Coaching + Completion Grants work – see above for our latest retention numbers:
  • We are reimagining our nationally-celebrated volunteer mentoring program.  Although we will keep our virtual platform CONNECT in place, we are not only bringing back in-person meetings but also scheduling these much earlier in the student’s high school senior year. Bringing mentors and students together earlier in the process provides an opportunity to develop stronger connections, giving students the additional support, encouragement and resources they need as they make their college plans. To learn more, join us for a webinar next week.

We understand the gravity of this time and find ourselves poised to tackle this challenge alongside our partners in this work.

It’s a Students First – Always mindset at tnAchieves. 52.8 percent is unacceptable. We’re READY. 


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