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Panelists at RaiseMe's NACAC 2019 Education Session

NACAC 2019 Review: A Look Into Micro-Scholarships Across the Education Lifecycle

How do micro-scholarships help support students in seeking out, striving for, and realizing their potential when it comes to preparing for and applying for college? 

At the 2019 NACAC National Convention in Louisville, the session “Micro-scholarships: A Holistic Approach To Achieving Momentum and Motivation in Student Success” combined insights from high school, community college, and higher education enrollment leaders to discuss this question. 

Describing their various roles within RaiseMe’s micro-scholarship ecosystem were: Katherine Pastor-Lorents, a lead counselor from Flagstaff, Ariz.; Rose Rojas, Director of Transfer Articulation at Maricopa Community Colleges in Maricopa County, Ariz.; Maureen Weatherall, Vice President of Enrollment at Loyola Marymount University; and Matt Lopez, Vice President of Transfer Enrollment at Arizona State University. Moderated by RaiseMe Associate Vice President Dale Gaubatz, the group shared some of their most successful methods for keeping students motivated and engaged, both within and outside of the RaiseMe platform.

At the 2019 NACAC National Convention in Louisville, the session “Micro-scholarships: A Holistic Approach To Achieving Momentum and Motivation in Student Success” combined insights from high school, community college, and higher education enrollment leaders to discuss this question. 

Describing their various roles within RaiseMe’s micro-scholarship ecosystem were: Katherine Pastor-Lorents, a lead counselor from Flagstaff, Ariz.; Rose Rojas, Director of Transfer Articulation at Maricopa Community Colleges in Maricopa County, Ariz.; Maureen Weatherall, Vice President of Enrollment at Loyola Marymount University; and Matt Lopez, Vice President of Transfer Enrollment at Arizona State University. Moderated by RaiseMe Associate Vice President Dale Gaubatz, the group shared some of their most successful methods for keeping students motivated and engaged, both within and outside of the RaiseMe platform. 

The Importance of Intentionality: How Using RaiseMe Deepens Counselor-Student Relationships At Flagstaff High School

Katherine Pastor Lorents, Lead Counselor at Flagstaff High School

The discussion opened with Kat Pastor, lead school counselor at Flagstaff High School in Arizona, sharing the importance of intentionality in engaging students in the college process. “You can throw out an app, or a platform to a student, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to use it.” To improve students’ motivation towards accumulating micro-scholarships towards college, Pastor had counselors at her school visit classrooms and create breakout groups of 8-12 students in order to talk through certain terminology, navigate RaiseMe’s interface, actively enter achievements into RaiseMe’s platform on their devices together for a more personal, immersive experience. The small group setting helped students become more motivated to earn micro-scholarships, “allowed for a different level of discussion, it allowed for students to actually learn, and it allowed for our school counselors to build a relationship with their students they were assigned to,” said Pastor. 

“Once administration and teaching faculty are on board, that’s how we can have access and equity on all of our schools.”

Katherine Pastor-Lorents, Lead School Counselor, Flagstaff High School, AZ

Pastor also shared the value in working with universities and local community-based organizations to engage students and families in the college readiness process outside of school hours. Partnering with institutions like Arizona State University and Maricopa Community Colleges on evening programming, she said, has helped her school deliver more constructive advice to parents and families on where to find scholarships, saving for 529 plans, and more. 

Pastor also shared the value in working with universities and local community-based organizations to engage students and families in the college readiness process outside of school hours. Partnering with institutions like Arizona State University and Maricopa Community Colleges on evening programming, she said, has helped her school deliver more constructive advice to parents and families on where to find scholarships, saving for 529 plans, and more. 

Finally, Pastor stressed the importance of thinking differently in terms of equipping teaching faculty with the tools to help influence students’ college knowing and going behaviors. Using RaiseMe’s free fall college readiness curriculum resources, teachers at Flagstaff High School are equipped with video content and handouts to follow up with students to supplement the work of the counseling staff in introducing micro-scholarships. “Once administration and teaching faculty are on board, that’s how we can have access and equity on all of our schools,” said Pastor. 

Rose Rojas, Director of Curriculum and Transfer Articulation at Maricopa Community Colleges

Next up in the session was Rose Rojas, who oversees curriculum and transfer articulation for Maricopa Community Colleges, a 10-campus district serving over 200,000 students in Maricopa County, Arizona. 

“[At Maricopa], we want to see these students’ success — we want to create affordable pathways, we want to create access, and we want to level out the playing field. I see RaiseMe as adding a solution to trying to level out that field.”

Rose Rojas, Director of Curriculum and Transfer Articulation, Maricopa Community Colleges

At Maricopa Community Colleges, campuses mandate that students who are first to college or who have intended that they plan to transfer attend a first-year orientation. The challenge, Rojas said, is incentivizing other students who may come in undecided about their plans to transfer. That’s where RaiseMe comes in. “Students, as we know, don’t do optional or even highly recommended,” said Rojas. By working with four-year institutions to award a micro-scholarship for attending an orientation at Maricopa Community Colleges, shared Rojas, RaiseMe could help incentivize and encourage attendance. “It’s a win-win — a win for the student, a win for the community colleges. [At Maricopa], we want to see these students success, we want to create affordable pathways, we want to create access, and we want to level out the playing field. I see RaiseMe as adding a solution to trying to level out that field,” said Rojas. 

Rojas, who manages curriculum articulation agreements between Maricopa and four-year universities, also reflected on the importance of wraparound support to supplement transfer pathway agreements. Through AZTransfer, Maricopa’s community college district has had a strong transfer structure in place since the 90s. “Once you have the curriculum in place, there’s other support services that students need in order to feel supported along the way. And RaiseMe adds to that conversation because it creates those intentional handoffs [between the high school and the university], said Rojas. Working with outgoing high school students, Rojas shared that Maricopa serves as a bridge between high schools and four-year colleges, encourages students to complete standardized exams, engage on campus, and enter into the school’s own articulation plan with four-year schools, using RaiseMe to incentivize those actions. 

Finally, Rojas shared some ways in which Maricopa Community Colleges has used RaiseMe to support non-traditional adult learner populations with their transfer intentions. Recently, she said, Maricopa has built prior learning assessment into Guided Pathways programming within the Maricopa system, and worked with four-year colleges to incorporate micro-scholarships for achievements like military credit service, and completion of other standardized tests. “As part of these conversations, it’s really enriched our discussions with universities that we have, because it takes it to another level in terms of helping us identify those milestones that you’re seeing [nontraditional] students should take to be successful [in transfer].” 

Enabling First-Generation and Low-Income Students to Envision a Private University Experience

Maureen Weatherall, the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

Following Rojas’ on the podium was Maureen Weatherall, the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), a medium sized Catholic Jesuit university located in Los Angeles, CA. As Weatherall shared in the session, LMU has placed a deep focus on serving under-supported students from a “diversity of diversities”in a pursuit to provide the best possible outcomes for graduation with these populations. “We felt those those were students who were not necessarily going to consider a university like LMU. We’re private, we’re very expensive, and students were going to kind of rule themselves out before they actually came in and joined us.” On the RaiseMe platform, Weatherall said, students could discover LMU on their list of schools as an institution interested in them, and then move forward to work together towards admission, and eventual enrollment. “When students see their success being recognized, when they see it being acknowledged, then it encourages them to move forward,” Weatherall described.

“When students see their success being recognized, when they see it being acknowledged, then it encourages them to move forward.”

Maureen Weatherall, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Loyola Marymount University

Using RaiseMe to offer micro-scholarships to students both in high school and community college, according to Weatherall, has helped LMU get in front of as many students as possible, while providing motivation and confidence, and financial transparency into institutional aid for students who do not expect to receive a merit scholarship. “By letting [students] know that the steps they can take from their freshman year on — selecting a course, getting an “A”, going to an orientation or success program — can help them get towards that goal, makes the university seem more accessible to them.” 

LMU’s approach towards micro-scholarships has yielded positive results for the institution’s enrollment, particularly for students from underrepresented minority groups. As Weatherall shared, 32% of incoming freshmen students at LMU this fall who were RaiseMe users are Latino, compared to 22% in the institution’s overall freshmen class, while 12% of incoming freshmen who had used RaiseMe are African American, compared to 7% in the overall freshman class. Using RaiseMe, Weatherall, said, “we are reaching the students that we want to reach, and we were successful and getting them to join our campus.” 

Preparing students to thrive and persist in college with transfer micro-scholarships 

Matt Lopez, the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Services and Executive Director of Admissions Services at Arizona State University

Lastly, Matt Lopez, the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Services and Executive Director of Admissions Services at Arizona State University (ASU), honed in on his university’s program across both RaiseMe’s high school and transfer platforms. In doing so, Lopez described ASU’s deep partnership with community college institutions like Maricopa Community College to design a micro-scholarship program for transfer students that was aimed at connecting students more deeply to their two-year experience. Incentivizing for activities like serving as an officer in a student organization, for example, over simply emphasizing traditional degree pathways, might develop more resilience and commitment among students in the long term, according to Lopez.  

“We wanted to be able to help our community college partners by incentivizing behaviors that they feel are important to being successful in the community college, but also are setting up skills that are really important — that grit that’s needed to get through some of the adversity of the transfer process.” 

Matt Lopez, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Services, Arizona State University

The results that Lopez presented on ASU’s micro-scholarship program demonstrated the impact of this emphasis on resilience and deepening engagement — among ASU’s incoming transfer class, students who had earned RaiseMe micro-scholarships and were admitted to ASU saw a 68% yield rate in depositing to ASU. Moreover, among ASU’s first-time freshmen population, students that had earned RaiseMe micro-scholarships in high school saw a 46% yield rate compared to a 39% yield rate for the overall entering first-time freshman class.

A Joined Focus On Student Access and Equity Across Institutions

As practitioners from across the educational spectrum gathered at NACAC’s Annual Conference to learn from our esteemed panelists to dive deeper into an understanding of the application of micro-scholarships at their respective institutions, one key takeaway was eminently clear: with the shared goals of promoting student success in mind, micro-scholarships present a unique, immersive opportunity for institutions to collaborate at every phase of the educational journey on ensuring that access, clear pathways, and achieving educational equity sit at the core of our work in the realm of college admissions. 

Interested in learning more about how your institution can partner with RaiseMe to achieve your goals? Learn more by contacting our team here.

Cecilia is the Senior Manager for Content, Community, and Brand at RaiseMe. She leads all of RaiseMe’s communications efforts and got her career start working in higher education marketing. She loves to connect with different members of RaiseMe’s community of students, educators, and parents! In her spare time, Cecilia enjoys hiking, taking road trips, and spending time by the water.

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