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College Connection: Removing Barriers, Improving Access. Innovations 2010 March 29, 2010. Presented by. Mary Hensley, Ed.D. Executive Vice President, College Operations 512-223-7618 Melissa Richardson Curtis, Ph.D. Director, College Connection 512-223-7088

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College connection removing barriers improving access
College Connection: Removing Barriers, Improving Access

Innovations 2010

March 29, 2010

Presented by

  • Mary Hensley, Ed.D.

  • Executive Vice President, College Operations

  • 512-223-7618


  • Melissa Richardson Curtis, Ph.D.

  • Director, College Connection

  • 512-223-7088


ACC District Overview



  • 1 of 50 Texas community colleges

  • 8-county service area

    • 7,100 square miles

    • 30 independent school districts

  • 7 campuses (8th under construction)

  • 10 centers and 114 sites

  • 40,000+ credit students

  • 10,000 non-credit students

Closing the gaps
Closing the Gaps

Increasing College Participation

  • If more Texans do not earn college degrees by 2030, Texas could lose up to $40 billion in annual household income.

    • Unfunded initiative by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

      The Texas Goal by 2015

  • Increase student enrollment in higher education by 630,000

    ACC’s Goal by 2015

  • Increase student enrollment to 41,243

  • Make college attractive to traditionally under-represented students

Acc has met 2010 goals
ACC Has Met 2010 Goals

*Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Accountability, ACC, 2009 Fall Factbook Preview—Student Characteristics District-wide, Fall 2005-2009.

*THECB (2009, July). Closing the gaps by 2015: 2009 Progress Report.

College Connection

  • Major element of ACC’s response to Closing the Gaps

  • Keystone in ACC’s comprehensive P-16 Initiative

  • Partnerships with 25 area school districts and 57 high schools

    • Memorandums of Understanding signed annually

    • Relationships with school districts continuously supported

      • District administrators/superintendents

      • High school principals/counselors

  • Data sharing (FERPA compliant)

  • Annual planning/strategy meetings

  • College Connection

    • Strong institutional commitment brought growth in resources and partnerships

      • Initiated through existing institutional resources

        • 14 school districts, first 3 years

    • Growth funded through multiple grants

      • Two Mobile Go Centers

        • College Connection activities and community outreach

      • $300,000+

  • Now fully sustained with institutional resources

  • College Connection

    • ACC’s Executive Vice President for College Operations is single-point-of contact for district superintendents

      • ACC committed at the highest executive levels

  • No cost to the school district

  • ACC Foundation offers $2,500 College Connection Scholarshipto incoming freshmen

    • One per school district, minimum

  • College connection
    College Connection

    • The college enrollment process on the high school campuses

    • 100 percent participation of college seniors

      • ACC expert staff provide one-on-one support

    • Letters of acceptance given to seniors at graduation

    Activity grid sample
    Activity Grid Sample

    SHADE/BOLD – Required College Connection Activities

    College connection results
    College Connection Results

    Growth Since Inception

    College Connection Results

    ACC Applications From High School Seniors Increased by 3,635%

    ACC Enrollments Directly after High School Increased by 56%

    College Connection Impact

    Area High School Graduation Increased by 11%

    College/University Enrollments Directly After High School Increased by 21%

    College Connection Impact

    College-Going Culture is Becoming the Norm

    • 91% report that they plan to attend college directly after high school graduation

    • Of the 9% who did plan to attend college, 65% of those said they planned to go to college at a later date

    • Completing a college application and meeting with a college representative were ranked the top two most helpful activities for preparing for further education

      -- Central Texas Student Futures Project, Ray Marshall Center, The University of Texas (2009)

    College Connection Access and Success

    • College Connection enrollees are majority-minority

    • College Connection students persist at higher rates than ACC’s overall population

    • College Connection students withdraw from classes at same rate of overall population (17%)

    • College Connection students average 73% passing grades (C or better)

    Diversity of Participants

    College Connection Fall 2009 Enrollments by Ethnicity

    Overall ACC Fall 2009 Enrollments by Ethnicity

    Student Success

    College Connection Cohort Persistence

    *Excludes College Connection Cohort

    Student Success

    Fall 2009 Student Grade Comparison (12th Class Day Students)

    College Connection Students and All ACC Students

    *Excludes College Connection Cohort

    Opening doors
    Opening Doors

    • “Because of College Connection and because of Austin Community College, I have been able to make smart choices about college and my future.” – LBJ High School Graduate, ACCStudent

    • “With the start that I got from College Connection and the support that I got once I arrived at ACC, I have learned a lot about what it takes to go to college. I have learned so much that I have been able to help my friends know what to do. One of my best friends is finally going to start at Austin Community College in the fall because I shared with her that if I can do it, she can do it, too.” – Bastrop High School Graduate, ACC Student

    College Connection 2+2+2

    College Access Challenge Grant

    • $199,998 for 2009-11

    • University partnerships

      • Texas State University (public)

      • Southwestern University (private)

  • Brings transfer advising to 5 underserved high schools

    • Three urban, two rural

    • 503 high school students served to date

  • Supports College Connection enrolled students’ transfer goals

    • Unique Transfer Academy

    • 480 ACC students served to date

  • Impact on Other Programs and Partnerships

    ACC Fall Enrollments

    • 26% increase from 2004-2009

      Early College Start (Dual Credit) Enrollments

    • 167% increase from 2004-2009

      Tech Prep Enrollments

    • 109% increase in students collecting credit from 2003-2008

      Summer Bridge

    • College Connection success leveraged for grant funding

      Major Regional Initiatives

    • Foundation for Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s push to increase area college applications and FAFSA completions

    State and National Impact

    • 22+ Texas community colleges adopting College Connection

    • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board offering planning and implementation grants

      • ACC provided training

    • Other states adopt College Connection models

      • Florida Department of Education: “Go Higher – Get Accepted”

      • Maine: Law requiring high school seniors to complete one college application

  • Colleges from California to North Carolina consult with Austin Community College

  • Awards and Recognition

    • Awards

      • 2009 League for Innovation “Innovation of the Year”

      • 2007 Bellwether Award Winner

      • 2006 THECB Star Award Winner

      • 2006 Excelencia in Education Semi-Finalist

    • Media

      • Selections:

    Best Practices and Tips

    • Do away with thinking that school districts, schools, and students “have to come to the college” to complete college processes

    • Customize to meet school district needs

    • School districts differ from college

    • School districts differ from each other

    • Focus on what works for the school district

    • Start small – do what you can with existing staff and resources

    Best Practices and Tips

    • Expand – ask the school district, “What else can we do for your students?”

    • A successful program leads to additional success

      • Additional resources

      • Grant opportunities

      • Community support

      • New requests for partnerships

      • Positive media

      • Foundation for additional programs

    Best Practices and Tips

    • Partnerships aren’t always perfect

      • Tough times will happen

    • Famous last words – right above the signature line:

      • “The partnership agreement covers only the essential elements of a cooperative relationship; unexpected events may arise that require mutual understanding, communication, and trust.”

    Interactive Opportunity

    • What school district partnerships does your college currently have in place?

    • What stakeholders do you need to engage?

    • What barriers do you need to overcome?

    • What unique community characteristics will impact your school partnership strategies? In what way?

    • What is one thing you can do in the next month to engage your area high school students in college planning?

    For more information:

    For copies of this presentation:, League for Innovations Conference