DMACC Will Hire Eight New Counselors to Serve in Area High Schools to Better Help Students Transition to College and Careers

Posted 4/6/2021

DMACC is one of six community colleges to each receive a $50,000 grant from the Iowa DOE and Iowa College Aid

  • The grant will help fund eight College and Career Transition Counselor (CCTC) positions at DMACC with 14 partnering K-12 school districts.

  • The CCTCs will help students select colleges, programs/majors, apprenticeships, military service and other post-high school education plans.

  • ​The new counselors will spend four days per week at the high schools and one day per week at DMACC.

A $50,000 start-up grant from the Iowa Department of Education and Iowa College Aid Commission will help DMACC fund eight new counselors to be located in high schools within the DMACC district.

With grant assistance, DMACC and 14 districts will hire new College and Career Transition Counselors (CCTC) who will prepare more high school students for success in college, postsecondary career training and the workforce.

“Expanding College and Career Transition Counselor roles will help more students explore opportunities and take steps for continued success beyond high school," said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “I commend our community colleges and school district partners for their commitment to ensuring students identify their future goals and stay on a path to gain the education and skills needed for rewarding careers."

DMACC College and Career Transition Coordinator Gail Zehr said each CCTC will work with about 300 students so the population of students they work with will vary by high school.

Based on the funding of the grant, DMACC will have eight CCTC positions in the following 14 partnering districts:

  • Van Meter and Interstate 35

  • West Des Moines and Johnston

  • Ames and Collins-Maxwell

  • Southeast Polk

  • Prairie City-Monroe (PCM) and Knoxville

  • Ankeny (Ankeny High and Ankeny Centennial)

  • Boone and Ogden

  • Adel-DeSoto-Minburn (ADM) and Perry

“Our research shows that about 1 in 5 high school seniors who intend to start college don't actually get there," said Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan. “These counseling positions will be crucial to helping more young Iowans follow through on their college plans."

Zehr said these new CCTC positions will help reach more of those students by assisting and supplementing the work that current high school counselors are providing to their students right now. They will work as a team.

“The CCTCs are going to be able to help students and families by supporting them through the transition from high school to college, apprenticeships, military and other educational opportunities," Zehr said. “The CCTCs will be helping the students become aware of all of the post-secondary options they have and how to navigate the search process as they prepare to graduate from high school."

Zehr said the positions are designed to work primarily with high school juniors and seniors, as well as college freshmen.  Zehr said the counselors will be at the high schools four days per week and at DMACC one day per week during the school year and then summers at DMACC. She said the grant is for three years with DMACC receiving $40,000 for the first year, $7,500 for the second year and $2,500 for the third year.  She said DMACC will be hiring these positions by this summer with all being licensed high school counselors.

Zehr outlined some of the activities of the CCTCs:  

  • Helping students select colleges, programs/majors, apprenticeships and other work-based learning, military service, and other post-high school educational plans

  • Assist with college admissions process, financial aid, and scholarships

  • Outreach to special populations in each class, such as English Language Learner (ELL), first generation, and low-income students, along with students with disabilities, to provide additional support and resources as needed throughout the college process

  • Ensure a smooth transition of the high school seniors to colleges, including DMACC, and possibly teaching summer bridge courses such as SDV108 “Introduction to College."

  • Provide career exploration through various work-based learning (WBL) opportunities with the assistance of WBL coordinators and the WBL Clearinghouse

  • Outreach to families through evening and/or weekend events, services in other languages, and providing accommodations and extra support as needed

The other Iowa community colleges receiving the grant include:  Hawkeye Community College, Iowa Lakes Community College, Iowa Valley Community College District, Kirkwood Community College and Western Iowa Tech Community College.

Iowa College Aid will provide training and professional development through its Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy. Iowa's Area Education Agency Postsecondary Readiness and Equity Partnership (AEA PREP) will assist with ongoing training and program evaluation.


For more information, contact Gail Zehr, (515) 571-8286

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