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96% of Manistee County High School Seniors Participate in Michigan College Application Week


From the Alliance for Economic Success:


Manistee County's first county-wide College Application Week was a smashing success with 204 out of 212 high school seniors from all six Manistee County school districts completing at least one application to attend college. By the end of the Nov. 3-7 College Application Week, students had completed a total of 455 college applications, with 383 applications being completed during the week-long event.

Mary Ann Behm

"What a tribute this is to the determination of Manistee County's high school students and the tremendous support of all of the school districts, counselors and participating volunteers," said Mary Ann Behm, who helped organize College Application Week in her role as Coordinator of Launch Manistee. "Of the 212 high school seniors in the County, 133 said this was their first application to a college and another 61 said they'd be the first person in their family to attend college. While not everyone needs a college diploma to succeed, the estimate is that 62 percent of the jobs in Michigan by 2018 will require education beyond high school."

Behm said that 33 percent of Manistee students are completing post-secondary programs and that a major goal of Launch Manistee County is to partner with all interests to reverse that trend. Launch Manistee is a new initiative designed to support the success of students from early childhood through adulthood, and ultimately the economic prosperity of Manistee County.

Launch Manistee partnered with MIWorks to provide the same opportunity to non-traditional graduates, such as those with a GED and students who may not otherwise apply to college. Five participants at the MIWorks Learning Lab in Manistee completed college applications during this College Application Event.

 The goal of Michigan College Application Week was to give every graduating senior the opportunity to apply to college or another post-secondary opportunity and promote the need for education beyond high school," said Behm. "Through a great team effort, that goal was more than met!" 

 And Behm said the Manistee results have not gone unnoticed by college access leaders in Lansing.

"Manistee's results are a home run and everyone involved should be immensely proud," said Brandy Johnson, Executive Director of the Michigan College Access Network, who recently met with White House officials to share Michigan's efforts to increase college readiness and completion. "Through this effort, many students will complete a two or four year college degree program and have a more prosperous life with more opportunities because they applied for college as a result of the encouragement and collective efforts to organize College Application Week in Manistee County. This is exactly what the entire state needs to achieve to move the needle and strengthen the skills and abilities of our workforce!" 

Participating schools and school counselors leading the effort included:  Bear Lake High School, Michael Grahl; Brethren High School, Gail Bennett; CASMAN Academy, Henry Van Gemert; Manistee Catholic Central;  Ed Kolanowski,  Manistee High School,  Paul Howes;  and Onekama High School, Scott McKenney.

"This is terrific news for current and future Manistee County employers," said Betsy Evans, Director of Business Development for the Alliance for Economic Success. "A big part of expanding and attracting businesses and jobs lies in the skills and capabilities of our workforce. The response to College Application Week certainly bodes well for future employers as well as the overwhelming majority of students seeking to expand their experiences and capacities."

Launch Manistee is supported by grants and charitable donations to the Manistee County Community Foundation. Donations to support the new initiative may be made online by going to or by calling Foundation Executive Director Laura Heintzelman at 231-723-7269.

College Application Week began in North Carolina in 2005 as a pilot effort of a single high school and has grown to a 50-state effort. This year more than 300 Michigan schools participated. Last year, 208 high schools participated in Michigan, helping 16,279 seniors complete more than 20,975 applications. Michigan College Application Week is sponsored by the Michigan College Access Network.


Northwest Michigan Works! is an essential resource for employers and job seekers in the Northern Michigan area.
- Kathy Stuart, Michigan Rubber Products Human Resource Manager