RGV FOCUS promotes college graduation by re-engaging students
While colleges in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) experience a higher enrollment rate than the state of Texas itself, very few students complete their education.
Only 18% of residents aged 25 and over in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties have a bachelor’s degree or above.
In 2018, in collaboration with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), Texas Southmost College and South Texas College, we at RGV FOCUS launched an initiative to re-engage collegial, defined “stop-outs” like the students who started college. , but did not obtain their diploma or certificate.
Whether it was because they lost their financial aid, owed a balance in college, or had personal reasons, such as working full time or raising a family, these students dropped out of higher education because of they felt they had no other choice. .
Our RGV FOCUS team identified approximately 2,000 drop-outs from colleges in the Valley and over 9,000 “double-credit drop-outs” who had obtained double credits during high school but did not continue their studies.
To better support students, our initiative focused on strengthening outreach efforts in three areas:
1. Reverse transfer – simplify the process by which students who transferred to a four-year institution before completing an associate’s degree return to community college to complete their degree
2. Adult Re-engagement – helping mature students with some college credit and without a degree or diploma to return to college and complete their education
3. Double credit re-engagement – guide students who have achieved significant double credits in high school to pursue higher education if they had not yet moved on to university after graduation.
Debbie Gilchrist, former director of student service centers at UTRGV, explains that whether it’s an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, a degree is essential to getting better paying jobs and a greater economic stability.
“For our students who are considering returning to college, re-enrollment seems overwhelming, but it has never been more important than it is today,” says Gilchrist.
Since 2018, RGV FOCUS and our higher education partners have helped over 400 college dropouts continue their education and have helped over 700 dual-credit dropouts enroll in college. The reverse transfer made it possible to double the annual number of diplomas obtained by students.
Latest work of RGV FOCUS
As the RGV grows due to the economic development of new businesses settling in the region, the need for an educated and able-bodied workforce also increases. By earning their industry-based certifications or diplomas, RGV residents can fill new, well-paying job openings and secure a financially stable future.
RGV FOCUS expands side-by-side work to engage more college and university leaders in a partnership to ensure students are ready to succeed in high-demand careers by helping them earn degrees and graduate degrees .
We have engaged our leaders of higher education institutions to implement initiatives to advance post-secondary education opportunities for our students. When all the colleges and universities in the RGV come together to offer local students the opportunity to access higher education, everyone wins.
With more higher education leaders joining our RGV FOCUS partnership, students will have more options when deciding to move from college to college.
“The industry does not require or view a bachelor’s degree as the equivalent of a skilled workforce; their focus is on technical skills, ”says Cledia Hernandez, associate vice chancellor at Texas State Technical College. “Although our region is large, I believe that each of our colleges and universities plays a unique and vital role in providing educational opportunities and that by working together we can impact more students.”
More recently, RGV FOCUS was recognized for its work by Children At Risk. At the non-profit organization’s annual Accolades Luncheon on October 8, RGV FOCUS won the award for Best Non-Profit Collaboration or Collaboration Program and Best Children’s Advocate. We would not be able to do this work without our many partners and supporters, and we would like to thank the many education, business and community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley who are contributing to change on behalf of our people. students and teachers.
Editor’s Note: The above column was written by Dr. Rodney H. Rodriguez, Senior Director of RGV FOCUS. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with permission from the author. Rodriguez can be contacted by email via: [email protected].
Editor’s Note: RGV FOCUS is a collective impact initiative launched in 2012 by Educate Texas and Communities Foundation of Texas. Its mission is to transform university preparation, access and success in the four counties of the Rio Grande Valley: Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy. The group says it has already achieved measurable improvements in educational outcomes in the region and envisions a future where all learners in the Rio Grande Valley earn a degree or diploma leading to meaningful careers.
Editor’s Note: An image of a UTRGV graduation ceremony in Brownsville. (Courtesy photo by David Pike / UTRGV)
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