MPS Seniors Encouraged to Make Smart Move Before Starting College

M³ (pronounced M-cubed) Smart Start program aims to increase chances for success at MATC and UWM

Mark Feldmann,

March 25, 2024

Smart Start

Going through Smart Start was a good experience for me. I didn’t know if I could do college, but after doing this, I felt I could. College was a transition, but you’re going to get used to it.

Ieisha Murphy MATC student

Carina Evans wants to work in a hospital, maybe as a surgical technician or a licensed practical nurse.

Then again, the Milwaukee Public Schools’ Milwaukee Marshall High School senior might be a fashion designer. 

Or maybe go into real estate. 

“You have all that here, right?” Evans asked while at Milwaukee Area Technical College on Thursday, March 21. “I’m not really sure right now. I guess I just want to be all over the place.”

Evans will learn he can work with advisors who will share MATC has healthcare, fashion and real estate courses, which he can explore  by participating in M³ Smart Start, a program that helps ease the transition for MPS students graduating high school and entering college MATC or the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The program is offered through M³ (pronounced M-cubed), a partnership connecting MPS, MATC and UWM.

The program, which is free and open to any MPS senior interested in UWM or MATC, addresses the education phenomenon known as “summer melt.” 

Summer melt usually occurs when high school seniors who plan to go to college in the fall never actually enroll. That is the case with as many as 40% of high school seniors nationally each year, according to Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research.

Evans was one of 150 MPS graduating high school seniors who visited MATC on March 21, toured the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, completed paperwork, talked to recruiters and heard about Smart Start. It was one of a number of days with similar visits.

“By being here, you are helping build a community,” said Aneisha Denson, an MATC student recruiter. “You’re not just going to become a student, you’re going to become an MATC student.”

During Smart Start sessions, incoming MATC students can make friends, connect to other MPS graduates, attend coaching sessions to learn time management and study habits, and take field trips. Participants can even earn $250 in spending money by meeting with success coaches and participating in the field trips and other activities that take place between graduating high school and starting college.

“You can make some money and have some fun with us,” Denson said. 

The MPS seniors also heard from several current MATC students who participated in Smart Start last year.

“Coming to college is not as much of a shock as you might think,” said Devin Hayden, a graphic design student. “You can pick your own schedule, be on your own time. You have freedom of choice. With the coaching sessions, you get to find out what your own study style is.”

“Going through Smart Start was a good experience for me,” said Ieisha Murphy. “I didn’t know if I could do college, but after doing this, I felt I could. College was a transition, but you’re going to get used to it.”

Victor Lo, who participated in Smart Start last year, said he still cherishes the memories he has from visiting the Wisconsin Dells and attending the Summerfest music festival for the first time. “At the end of high school, I wasn’t sure about college,” he said. “But people saw potential in me, and this program helped me realize that.”

Find out more about at M³

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 30,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

About M³ (M-cubed):  M³ seeks to transform the future of Milwaukee through education. Through collaboration, coordination and partnership, MPS, MATC, and UWM will increase the retention, graduation, and career success of our students and provide a prepared workforce and citizenry for the Wisconsin economy. M³ will also provide the education and resources to help drive an entrepreneurial mindset for all students to increase choices and opportunities for growth.