Mesa Community College: Embedded High School Advisors Provide Students With a Customized, One-Stop Enrollment Experience

Dawn Zimmer
Member Spotlight

Leadership at Mesa Community College (MCC) and Mesa Public Schools (MPS) worked together to strategize methods to increase persistence and college attendance for high school students, with an emphasis on populations facing the most challenges. The resulting Mesa Community College High School Advisor Program creates a one-stop enrollment experience and is increasing the number of Mesa public high school students enrolling at the college.

Through the partnership, an MCC college advisor is embedded in each of the six MPS high schools to recruit students, provide seamless transition to MCC, increase Early College enrollment, create a college-going culture, and build relationships. The advisors work with students and their families to provide individualized support.

“To our knowledge, there is no other program exactly like this at any other college or university,” said Tara Blomvall, the Student Services Manager who helped implement the program. “This is not a traditional recruitment or advisement program where employees make periodic visits to the school. The team becomes part of the high school campus community and helps improve the college-going culture across their schools.”

The advisors began August 2017 and the data supports its effectiveness. In fall 2018, the number of MPS graduates enrolling at MCC increased by 20 percent over fall 2017. The results include an enrollment increase of 24 percent for Hispanic students, 11 percent for first-generation students, and five percent for Pell Grant recipients as well as an increase of 84 percent for those applying for and receiving President’s Honors Scholarships.

The High School Advisor Program is also designed to help retain students who transition from a Mesa public high school to MCC directly after graduation. The team provides the students with knowledge about campus resources, financial aid, and registration to help them succeed once they matriculate to college. Students transition from working with their embedded college advisor to an MCC-based academic advisor at the start of their first college semester at the college.   

According to Blomvall,

The creation of this team has provided a more streamlined enrollment process for the students of Mesa Public Schools, [who] are able to enroll in dual or concurrent enrollment courses, apply to Mesa Community College, complete placement testing, seek assistance with financial aid and scholarship applications, and register for courses without leaving their high school. This makes the process of enrolling more efficient for the students, staff, and teachers of Mesa Public Schools and reduces traffic in the MCC Enrollment Center, providing more resources on campus for other MCC students.

The MCC-MPS program is more efficient for MCC. Historically, the college had team members from six or more departments spending time visiting district high schools. Having one person at each high school reduces traveling time, increases accessibility for high school students, and boosts full-time student enrollment from the high schools, and builds a recruitment pipeline.   

Blomvall suggests other colleges looking to implement the program be committed to taking the time to build partnerships with school districts and setting guidelines and goals to ensure the initiative is successful. She says it is important to track results and be patient because building a recruitment program and pipeline takes time.  

“We’re excited about the results we’ve seen with this program thus far,” says Blomvall. “We are continuing to work with the Mesa Public School system to provide a seamless experience for high school students to continue their education attending Mesa Community College.”

Dawn Zimmer is Media Relations Manager at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona.

Opinions expressed in Member Spotlight are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the League for Innovation in the Community College.