Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has proclaimed Monday through Friday as "College Application and Exploration Week" in the Mountain State in an effort to assist more students in preparing for education and training beyond high school.
More than 70 middle and high schools, colleges and universities, and community organizations across the state will host events and activities designed to help students and families in exploring and applying to higher education programs.
The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) coordinates the "College Application and Exploration Week" initiative, now in its third year. CFWV is a college- and career-planning initiative led by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission), in conjunction with the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education (Council), the West Virginia Department of Education, and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts.
"Our participation in College Application and Exploration Week is an example of West Virginia's leadership in addressing a nationwide effort to increase access to postsecondary education for students today so they will be ready to lead in tomorrow's workforce," Tomblin said. "Completing some form of education and training beyond high school, whether through certificate programs, two-year degree programs, or four-year degree programs, is an essential step for our citizens as they strive to compete in the global workforce."
Schools and organizations participating in the event have planned a variety of activities, including college application labs and workshops, college scavenger hunts and trivia contests, and panel discussions with current college students.
Colleges and universities are participating in a variety of ways, ranging from assisting with middle and high school activities to planning events to help adults return to the classroom to continue their education.
Dr. Paul L. Hill, the commission's chancellor, said the week is about more than just asking students to complete college applications.
"College Application and Exploration Week is an opportunity to increase awareness regarding the diverse academic offerings available across the state's higher education system," Hill said. "This collaborative effort among K-12, higher education, and community organizations builds enthusiasm for education and training beyond high school by encouraging students who have not yet realized their full potential and assisting them in discovering their options - and ultimately - their passion."
James L. Skidmore, the council's chancellor, said that the week encourages students to link college choices with career paths.
"College isn't the same for everyone," Skidmore said. "With the escalating skill requirements for high-wage jobs, we encourage every student to consider some form of education and training beyond high school, and there are a wide variety of options available. Our state's community and technical college system offers excellent degree programs to help students prepare for jobs in high-paying technical and skilled labor fields."
Participation in the initiative is open to any service organization, middle or high school, and college or university in West Virginia. Participating groups were asked to register in advance and organizations were provided with a toolkit for implementing the program, including several online resources available at CFWV.com, the state's free college- and career-planning web portal.