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Jeff Meadors: 411 guides students on road to the future

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

When Georgia students seek help, 411 is ready. Just what is Georgia College 411?

Boosted by the Bridge Act, GAcollege411.org is a powerful website that helps Georgia students plan and pay for college. Launched in February 2005, 411 is a free service of the state of Georgia provided by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. 411 hosts annual College Goal events at locations throughout the state as a free service to assist students and families with the college application and financial aid process.

In 2012 Rockdale Career Academy was one of 13 hosts statewide. RCA's 17 volunteers assisted 115 participants from 36 families with 25 FAFSAs completed. FAFSA is a free application for federal student aid; students should complete a FAFSA after Jan. 1 of their senior year.

411 shares updated information on HOPE, Accel, Zell Miller Scholarship eligibility, college and career pathways, and directions are available for students to request electronic high school transcripts to be sent to colleges. 411 is the only place for students to secure their official HOPE GPA.

Students may explore high school, college and career planning, link to Go Build Georgia where skilled trades are featured, and work on career interest inventories to match their aptitude and skills to career pathways. Students seeking early admission to college through dual enrollment will find SAT and ACT practice at 411 as well.

411 has added Life$ense to assist students with financial literacy. At Life$ense, students complete activities on earning, spending, saving, borrowing, investing and protecting their money, and explore ways to save and spend wisely.

A Financial Aid 101 portal allows students to understand financial aid terms, identify service cancelable loans for engineers and military, find federal grants based on need, understand federal loan programs, and understand loan repayment.

In the Career Planning section students may access tips for creating resumes, cover letters, gain tips for successful job interviewing, and work through a thank-you note builder.

Importantly, 411 is a portal where students apply to colleges, track those applications, build portfolios, and make them available to select colleges. Answers to frequently asked questions on topics like these are given: the adult learner, distance learning, early enrollment, freshman admissions, international students, online education, and transfer students.

Students should also check out Road Trip Nation, roadtripnation.org. In 2001, three college graduates took a road trip in a green RV in hopes of discovering their places in the world. Their idea was simple: Go out and talk to people who are doing what they love and find out how they got there.

The RTN explorers interviewed the CEO of National Geographic, the scientist who decoded the human genome, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, and more people doing what they love. Forbes Magazine featured RTN and studies have shown that students in school systems adopting RTN curriculum boast higher GPAs (even though Road Trip focuses on non-cognitive factors), increased self-efficacy, and improved student academic performance by a factor of 2.

For Georgia students seeking help with college and career planning, it's just a click away.

Jeff Meadors has served in elected and appointed positions in education and may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com