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Texas community college transfer students need “HOV Lane” to success

College students of color are more likely to attend more than one college and are disproportionately affected when credits don’t transfer, according to the Scaling Partners Network. Photo: torugadatacorp/Pixabay

By ROZ BROWN
Texas News Service

AUSTIN, Texas — A growing number of students turn to Texas community colleges for the first two years of their education to save money before transferring to a four-year school. Too often, however, those students learn many of their credits won’t transfer.

Last year, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 25, designed to help students avoid losing credits as they move through the higher-education system. John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the nonprofit Educate Texas, said thousands of students and families forfeit time and money when credits don’t transfer.

“And we just make it really hard for kids,” he said, “and we particularly make it really hard for students and families who are the first generation in their family to go to college.”

For a faster and more economical experience, Fitzpatrick said, Texas parents and students need the equivalent of an “HOV lane” from community college to a four-year school. Garbee says in the interim, institutions are working together through the Texas Transfer Alliance. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, half of bachelor’s degree graduates attended at least two schools before receiving their degrees.

Texas has 148 public and private higher-education institutions, including 50 community college districts and 75 universities. That makes it tough for students to navigate requirements, according to Dr. Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“We now have to reform the higher-education system so it’s much more friendly to American youth than it is in this highly fragmented apparatus that we have out there now,” he said, “especially in the public system.”

To help students navigate, Dr. Kelty Garbee, director of programs for Educate Texas, says the new state law requires that universities develop recommended course sequences for all their majors, and also report courses that don’t transfer for credit.

“The first time that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will have access to that data is actually not until spring of 2021,” Garbee said, “but the hope is, it will provide more information.”

Garbee says in the interim, institutions are working together through the Texas Transfer Alliance. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, half of bachelor’s degree graduates attended at least two schools before receiving their degrees.

A call to action is online at utdanacenter.org.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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