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Gov. Bill Haslam: Lots going on in the classroom

Staff Reports • Updated Oct 5, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Through the Tennessee Promise and other Drive to 55 programs, we are changing the conversation around going to college in Tennessee. In fact, the college-going rate in Tennessee increased to a historic high of 62.5 percent in 2015.

Last week, we announced the 30 partner schools chosen to participate in Advise TN, a new program to increase the number of high school students accessing higher education.  Spanning from Shelby County to Washington County, these schools will work with an Advise TN college advisor to provide college counseling services to 10,000 junior and senior students across the state this fall, including one-on-one counseling sessions for each junior and senior to map out college goals, participation in events such as College App Week and TN FAFSA Frenzy, and ensuring students are completing the applications and financial aid paperwork to enroll in college. Advise TN counselors will also provide parent and family outreach.

Last month, we also announced recipients of the Labor Education Alignment Program competition, a state initiative that supports the Drive to 55 by awarding grants to help communities align workforce needs with higher education. We believe if we can eliminate gaps in the skills needed by local manufacturers and other companies and the types of degrees and courses offered by local community and technical colleges, we can strengthen our workforce to meet industry demands. These LEAP grants help create programs that tie specific training and skills to current workforce needs, helping more Tennesseans qualify for good, high paying jobs. 

Nov. 1 is the deadline for high school seniors to apply for the Tennessee Promise.  This fall, thousands of students from the classes of 2015 and 2016 are utilizing Tennessee Promise benefits to attend two years of a community college or technical school free of charge. My message to the class of 2017 is this. This is your Tennessee Promise. This is an opportunity for you to change the future for yourself and for our state. I also want to encourage adults to sign up by Nov. 20 to be mentors for Tennessee Promise students. The process of applying and attending college can seem daunting, especially for first-generation college students, and having a caring adult to help guide you can make a big difference. Student and mentor applications are available at tnpromise.gov.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC), along with many state partners, have launched a series of initiatives focused on increasing college enrollment in the state. We want Tennessee students to know that college isn’t just an option. It’s an expectation, and the state is committed to helping students find the right postsecondary path for them. 

Finally, I want to close by encouraging you to get a flu shot. I got mine last Friday. It’s a quick, easy thing you can do to help keep you and those around you healthy.

Hope you’re having a great fall. As always, I welcome your feedback at bill.haslam@tn.gov.

Bill Haslam is Tennessee’s Republican governor.

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