Dallas, TX – A newly-launched pilot education program could help more North Texans attend college. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports TexCan - the Texas College Access Network - will target first generation and low-income students.
The need is great, say education and elected officials. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says 29 percent of the city's population has a college degree, and that's too low. He says a one point increase, to 30 percent, would create an additional $4.6 billion impact to the city. What's more, crime drops, while income, health and volunteer efforts improve.
Rawlings: We must have more and more kids enroll and finish college. You know, one of the issues we have is sometimes we lack high expectations, of our kids and of ourselves. I think that's got to stop. A major difference in people's lives either to have a job or not have a job is about going to college.
For students whose parents never attended college, or lack money to visit a campus or even pay for an application, a college education may not even be in the picture. Unless there's help. Senior Jennifer Rangel is the top student at DISD's Molinas High School. She received help from the College Access Network program and now plans on college.
Rangel: When I was in high school I was wondering, this is my last 4 years, it was "go to college or get a job?" I was wondering. How am I going to get there? Not everything is easy for me. I believe in malleable intelligence. I'm not a naturally smart person. I have to study a lot. Many hours of investment. When I have people that help me with college, it kind of eases me the way into managing my time doing homework and applying for college.
Molinas says resources like those offered through the TxCan program, are helping her visit colleges and even apply to Harvard. She wants to be a veterinarian.
Rangel: Since scholarships are a major thing for me, I'm working on essays to perfect them.
With $400,000 in private funds, this North Texas network will work with more than 1500 programs already set up to help students learn about, apply to, then attend college. George Tang is with the Texas High School Project, a non-profit tied to the College Access Network. He says the many college service groups have never worked together before to reach more students. Now they will.
Tang: We learned we needed to accelerate not only in getting kids college ready but also enable them to have access and success in the post-secondary space.
North Texas and San Antonio were the two winners among five Texas regions competing for this pilot program. Tang says North Texas won because of collaborative efforts promised among the different student service groups.