An innovative new program in Texas aims to increase the college-going rates of Hispanics by admitting students to college as early as the beginning of their junior year of high school.
The University of Texas at Arlington and the Arlington Independent School District recently announced the new “Bound for Success” program.
Students ranked in the top 20 percent of their class by the end of their sophomore year will be “pre-admitted” to the university. About 1,500 students are expected to qualify, and will receive acceptance letters in the coming days. There is a catch — the offer will only remain valid if they complete their high school graduation requirements.
Counselors from UT-Arlington also will work with students on the high school campuses weekly to guide them through their course selections, including dual-enrollment classes. The university will also become involved on campuses by offering families college-readiness and financial aid workshops. Students also will be welcome to attend activities and events at the university.
“We know that there are students who excel throughout their high school years but for a variety of reasons do not pursue a college education,” Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington school district superintendent, said in a news release from the university. “With this program, we are re-affirming that these students are prepared for success and that we are going to help guide them along their path to a college degree.”
The school district’s superintendent was motivated to create the program after he became concerned about a survey finding that 27 percent of Arlington’s Hispanic graduates had not applied to college, in addition to 20 percent of all graduating seniors.
In the 2011-12 school year, the Arlington school district had 64,592 students, of which 43 percent were Hispanic and 65 percent were economically disadvantaged.
The program is already challenging and raising students’ expectations of themselves.
“I didn’t even expect to go to college,” 17-year-old Luis Leroy, who will receive an acceptance letter, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I didn’t think I would go.”
By removing the process that students must go through to apply for college, will more end up attending college than previously? It will be interesting to follow this experiment and see.