Stakeholders come together on July 19 to share best practices that improve postsecondary access and support student success

CHICAGO – A renewed regional and national emphasis on improving the path for students from education to employment is creating new partnerships designed to provide students with the information, resources, and experiences they need to achieve their education and career goals. The 8th Annual College Changes Everything® (CCE) Conference in Tinley Park on Thursday, July 19, 2018, brings together educators, government, business and non-profit leaders, other professionals, and students to share information, ideas, and best practices to help Illinois students navigate a path for success.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to chart a course that is right for them, whether it is a four-year degree, two-year degree, postsecondary certificate, or apprenticeship,” said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), the agency that sponsors the CCE Conference in collaboration with other partners.

“By 2020, it is expected that 65 percent of all jobs will require some form of postsecondary education or training,” said Zarnikow. “Education pathways, supported by business and education partnerships, can offer students the guidance, resources, and experiences they need to define and meet their goals.”

This year’s keynote speaker will be Mandy Savitz-Romer, Ph.D., director of the Harvard Graduate School of Education master’s program in Prevention Science and Practice and senior lecturer in education, who will speak on “Redefining College Ready: Integrating Adolescent Development into College Readiness Efforts.” Her work examines how school and non-profit organizations structure postsecondary supports that address developmental skills and readiness. She writes and speaks extensively on college and career readiness and school-based counseling, specifically as it relates to students of color and first-generation college students. The former associate director of the Boston Higher Education Partnership and a former urban school counselor, Savitz-Romer is the co-author of Ready, Willing, and Able: A Developmental Approach to College Access and Success (Harvard Education Press 2012).

Conference sessions, presented by state and national experts and practitioners, will cover topics such as college and career readiness frameworks, a consumer guide to higher education and student loans, service and experiential learning, working with non-traditional students, addressing the persistence gap, promoting STEM learning, improving financial literacy, supporting special student populations, partnerships to improve college and career outcomes, coaching and mentoring for academic success, and many more. See the preliminary agenda.

The conference will be held at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Tinley Park, Illinois on July 19 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the registration fee is $40. To register for the conference or for more information, visit Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #CCE4me.

The College Changes Everything Conference is sponsored by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in collaboration with partners: Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois College Access Network, Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, Advance Illinois, Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University, Generations Serving Generations, ACT Now, and Women Employed.

About College Changes Everything

College Changes Everything® (CCE) is a college access movement that recognizes that college can be a life-changing experience not only for students, but also for families and communities. In Illinois and across the nation, those who obtain education beyond high school not only see a significant impact on their potential career prospects and future salary, but also change levels of poverty, life expectancy, crime, and obesity rates in their communities. CCE is an essential part of helping Illinois reach its goal of increasing the proportion of adults in the state with high quality degrees or credentials to 60% by 2025. Find out more and join the conversation at

About ISAC

The mission of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is to help make college accessible and affordable for students throughout Illinois. ISAC provides comprehensive, objective, and timely information on education and financial aid for students and their families—giving them access to the tools they need to make the educational choices that are right for them. Then, through the state scholarship and grant programs ISAC administers, ISAC can help students make those choices a reality. Find us at or on Facebook (@ILStudentAssistance), Twitter and on Instagram @ISACfinaid.
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