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Online Training Launched to Improve College Access Advising

The National College Access Network has made good on its promise to provide an online training tool to help college access and success practitioners guide students through the college search process.

The Washington-based nonprofit today launched a professional development e-learning platform for school counselors, nonprofit college advisers, corporate volunteers, and educators to work through at their own pace.

NCAN officials had announced the initiative earlier this year, along with commitments from several other college access organizations supporting the administration's push to expand higher education opportunity to disadvantaged students through the Reach Higher Initiative. The NCAN training is part of a larger effort to improve school counseling to get more students on the path to college.

The first module on financial aid fundamentals is available now and offered free through sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Financial Aid. The 60-minute section provides users with a basic understanding of the financial aid application process and aid programs available.

Other training modules to be rolled out over the 2014-2015 school year will cover early-awareness training for middle and high school students, college-entrance exams, parent engagement, testing strategies and resources for low-income students, admissions advising for first-generation college students, and student retention strategies.

"We hope this is game changer that helps professionlize the field of college advising," NCAN Executive Director Kim Cook said in a phone interview.

Eventually, the platform will offer 30 hours of professional development. The module on financial aid and a few other topics will be free to anyone, but the other future content will be offered for a fee ($59 per hour for NCAN members and $79 per hour for nonmembers) for the 30- to 120-minute sessions. NCAN members include 400 community-based organizations, school districts, and higher education institututions. Digital badging will be available to recognize those who complete the training.

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