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Rebeccah Verhoff-Kiss, Outreach & Education Officer, ServeOhio

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College Now Takes Postsecondary Advising Services on the Road

This guest blog was written by Keely Veatch, AmeriCorps Alum and Marketing and Communications Coordinator at College Now Greater Cleveland.

In a year like no other, the COVID-19 pandemic has required organizations like College Now Greater Cleveland to be innovative, responsive, and flexible in meeting students and families. Remote school, hybrid learning, and limited access to students and families made us reconsider how we deliver on our mission to increase postsecondary educational attainment through college and career access advising, financial aid counseling, and scholarship and retention services in school and community buildings across Northeast Ohio.

Throughout the spring and summer, College Now will be hosting a series of mobile advising events. The Mobile Academic Classroom will be traveling to different sites and neighborhoods across Northeast Ohio for students to work on their college and career planning with College Now advisors and AmeriCorps members. Students can schedule appointments or participate in a walk-up advising session on a first come, first served basis.

Since the pandemic started, College Now has been delivering advising services virtually. With a strong information technology backbone, the pivot to online support was implemented as early as April 2020.  However, over this past year, connecting students and advisors via email, phone, and/or video call has not been as feasible as we may have hoped.  We know many students are still uncertain about their next steps and postsecondary plans as this school year ends. As a result, we’ve had to adapt our standard outreach models to meet students where they are because we know the pandemic will end, restrictions will eventually be lifted, and that postsecondary planning is still vital to students’ futures.

To expand the availability and reach of services, College Now has partnered with BEST Community Resource Center to conduct mobile services aboard their Mobile Academic Classroom, which is a school bus that has been redesigned to serve as a classroom and learning center. By taking the bus to neighborhood recreation centers, setting up outside schools, and working to set up community events at various venues throughout the region, the mobile classroom provides opportunities to reach students who may be unable to access virtual services during the COVID-19 pandemic or, even if back in school buildings, may need additional in-person support as they plan for their journey after high school. College Now is able to provide this service through its partnership and support from ServeOhio and AmeriCorps.

Most recently, the Mobile Academic Classroom traveled to City Life Center in Cleveland, OH on April 17, 2021.

This was the second of numerous events that will take place in the coming months. Local students and their family members worked with College Now staff and AmeriCorps members to complete their FAFSA, receive financial aid counseling, search for scholarships, explore careers, apply to postsecondary programs, and more.

All services provided on the Mobile Academic Classroom are free to students and their families. College Now adheres to strict health and safety protocols at each mobile event, and requires guests to abide, as well. Face coverings over the nose and mouth worn must be worn at all times while on the bus and in surrounding waiting areas. Students may be accompanied by one parent/guardian while working with an advisor on the bus. All surfaces and equipment are sanitized between each appointment. A tent will also be set up at each location for outdoor meetings, which will still require masks and social distance guidelines to be followed.

As dates and locations are solidified, more events will be added to College Now’s website event calendar and additional updates will be shared on College Now’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

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