Texas high school juniors, seniors, and recent graduates will soon have access to virtual college advising through the Future Focused TX campaign, funded in part by a $375,000 grant from Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) to Get Schooled.

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools across the state in March, high school students lost access to in-person advising right when they needed it most. Spring is a critical time for college access as students research schools and programs, work on college applications, and apply for financial aid.

The pandemic also created uncertainty for thousands of families, who now must decide what postsecondary options are best and how they will pay for them given current health and economic conditions.

Even under normal circumstances, resources for school-based college and career advising are scarce. Statewide, the ratio of school counselors to students is 444:1. Now, high school counselors face added strain as districts statewide grapple with how to educate students safely and effectively during the pandemic.

To combat this problem, the Future Focused TX campaign will provide free, compelling, research-based digital content to counselors and students to keep Texans on track with their postsecondary plans. The content creation for this initiative is led by Get Schooled, a nonprofit that helps young people get to college through web-based advising content and 1:1 support via texting. Get Schooled will work with a coalition of Texas partners to share engaging, easy-to-understand content for students on its website and social media channels and provide resources for counselors to use, as well. Students can also opt to sign up for the Get Schooled textline (33-55-77), where they can get real-time answers to their college and job questions.

“There’s no doubt this school year will be challenging, especially for our students navigating the college process,” said John Branam, Executive Director of Get Schooled. “Nationally, we anticipate as much as a 20% drop in college enrollment. But with the right supports for counselors and their students, Future Focused TX aims to buck this trend in Texas.”

Other Future Focused TX partners include the Texas College Access Network (TxCAN), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Texas OnCourse, United for College Success, and College Forward. Additional funding for the initiative was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“In Texas, we’re all worried about how to support our students this year,” said Shareea Woods, Executive Director of the Texas College Access Network. “We’re excited about the Future Focused TX Campaign because our coalition will help counselors expand their capacity by providing them with ready to use and engaging college access content including videos, check-lists, premade emails and more. In addition, THECB is stepping up to take their virtual advising tool, ADVi, statewide, so more students will be able to get their college questions answered.”

“The pandemic heightened an existing barrier to students’ postsecondary success: limited access to timely college and career advising,” said Sue McMillin, President and CEO of Greater Texas Foundation. “We believe Future Focused TX will not only help students overcome that barrier during this uniquely challenging time but will give rise to effective advising strategies that can become standard practice in the long term.”

To learn more about Future Focused TX and sign up for updates, visit www.futurefocusedtexas.org.

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