CLEVELAND, Ohio- We all know that iconic tassel located on a graduation cap that High schoolers and college students everywhere strive to turn from right to left on graduation day.

In the uncertain time of COVID-19, that tassel has become a mascot for a program that offers to help students pursue a bright future.

What You Need To Know

  • New virtual college and career support service for students of all ages called “Ask Tassel."

  • It's designed to provide students with extra virtual support during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

  • Students can access Tassel by calling College Now’s main line at 216.241.5587, or by texting the word TASSEL to 216.208.5866

“Tassel was designed just to keep helping families and parents and adult students to progress towards college,” Julie Szeltner, senior director of adult programs at College Now Greater Cleveland, said.

College Now Greater Cleveland is a nonprofit organization that was founded more than 50 years ago and is dedicated to increasing educational attainment in Northeast Ohio. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, College Now has developed a free college hotline called “Ask Tassel,” designed to help students and their families with questions relating to any area of postsecondary education. This includes college and career advising, financial aid counseling, and scholarship services.

“We’ve always had kind of a front desk number where you can reach us, but the big news now with tassel is that you can text us,” Szeltner said.

Szeltner said amid the COVID-19 pandemic and student advising being forced to go virtual; her team saw this as an opportunity to help with all the uncertainty surrounding school resources.

“In this time higher-ed is kind of up in the air and people are a little bit confused about what the future is going to look like and if we’re going to be in distanced learning. We just want to get the word out there that even though we don’t know everything that there’s somebody here to talk to and kind of be a coach,” she said.

The free service is open to students who are at various stages in their academic pursuits.

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We are excited to share a brand new tool to help students and families get answers to their postsecondary questions: Ask Tassel! . Ask Tassel is a full-service college and career access hotline for students of all ages with questions about their education. When you reach out, you will be connected to College Now Greater Cleveland and receive the support, guidance, and information that you need to help you on your educational journey. . You can reach Tassel in one of two ways: by calling 216.241.5587 or by texting the word TASSEL to 216.208.5866. . When you call Tassel, you will directly speak to a College Now staff member who will connect you with our Resource Center or another staff member to answer your question. When texting Tassel, you will receive an automatic reply indicating that you will be connected with an advisor in the College Now Resource Center who will follow up with more detailed information and personalized support within one business day. . Students needing immediate support are encouraged to call the hotline in order to speak with College Now promptly. . Ask Tassel is available for any number of questions related to your educational journey, including questions about choosing a college or university; scholarship applications; completing the FAFSA and other financial aid information; standardized tests; College Now’s community-based programs; and more. Ask Tassel is always free and is available for students of all ages, regardless of location. . Spanish language options are also available. #asktassel

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“If you’re in high school and starting to think about college. We do a lot of ACT and SAT prep, and so forth, all the way up to we have some folks that are in their 60’s pursuing their degree,” Szeltner said.

Brandon Copeland, a full-time biology student who has used College Now’s services for more than nine years, thinks with the convenience of this new tool, he doesn’t see why any motivated student wouldn’t try it.

“It is a very helpful, very resourceful tool that I think is simple, is intuitive, everybody has a mobile phone, you know...they’re making it so easy that why not do it. You know a lot of people talk themselves out of positive opportunities, ‘why me,’ ‘well you know, am I good enough?’ and the question should be ‘why not me?’” he said.

Julie said in this time of uncertainty, “Ask Tassel” is there to support and guide you through your academic journeys.

“We do want to manage expectations around you know we are working pretty much normal business hours, but if you have a question, we can turn it around within 24 hours, one business day,” she said. “So sometimes people think of a hotline as someone instantly there, but my team is fantastic about following up with people. Try it out!”

Students can access tassel by calling College Now’s mainline at 216.241.5587, or by texting the word TASSEL to 216.208.5866