News Release: Texas students opting for quality, hands-on instruction at community colleges

eastfieldFabiola Chavez and Kingsley Scott wanted to make sure they were more than ready for their university experiences.

Chavez and Scott had every opportunity to attend major four-year institutions straight out of high school. But the two chose to use their local community colleges to provide them high-quality education while preparing them academically and socially for the challenges they would face at the university level.

Chavez, 21, graduated from Eastfield College in May 2015 and is transferring to the University of Dallas this fall to study biology and continue her pre-medicine track that will lead her to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Scott, 20, is a 2016 graduate of Victoria College and will attend the University of Texas at Austin this fall. She will study political science at UT with plans of entering the law school at the Austin campus.

Both students said familiarity, proximity and affordability played pivotal roles in their decisions to begin their careers in higher education at the community college level.

“I wanted more personal attention from my professors and more one-to-one learning experiences with faculty,” said Chavez, who graduated from W.T. White High School in Dallas. “I wanted to stay close to home. I wanted a realistic option for college, and I wanted a realistic price.”

“I felt when I first got out of high school, I wasn’t prepared to go off on my own,” said Scott, a graduate of rural Calhoun High School in Port Lavaca. “It seemed like community college would better prepare me and help me grow a little.”

Chavez and Scott are part of a continuing trend as community colleges remain the largest sector of Texas higher education. According to a study by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), there were 700,892 students enrolled in community colleges statewide during the fall of 2015. That made up 47.1 percent of all higher education students in Texas. The number of students at public universities totaled 619,284 or 41.6 percent.

The THECB also reported 70 percent of all college freshmen and sophomores statewide were enrolled in community colleges for the Fall 2015 semester.

Eastfield College graduate Fabiola Chavez poses with the President’s Volunteer Service Award she received from President Obama.

“A lot of people just want to leave home when they get out of high school,” Scott said. “Sometimes that just isn’t the smartest move. You’re not ready for that commitment and the time and effort it takes. Community college is a good in-between step to get you ready.”

Another THECB study revealed 74 percent of all bachelor’s degree graduates in 2015 attended community colleges. Of those graduates, 35 percent accumulated more than 30 credit hours at community colleges.

More students are finding that community colleges offer lower teacher-to-student ratios and effective support systems to prepare them for four-year universities and beyond.

“Instead of being bombarded with the university experience, I wanted to get a dose of college reality at Eastfield,” Chavez said.

“When you’re off on your own in a big city at a big university, you don’t know anyone, you have no real help,” Scott said. “The teachers at Victoria College helped me prove to myself that I could make it through college classes even if it meant going to the tutoring center for extra help.”

According to the THECB and Texas Association of Community Colleges Legislative Budget Board, Texas community colleges rank third in the nation in affordability, behind only California and New Mexico. The average tuition and fees for the Fall 2016 semester for Texas full-time students living in a community college taxing district was $987.

“Affordability was definitely a big reason why I chose Victoria College,” said Scott, who said she will spend approximately $14,000 on boarding alone her first year in Austin. “I’m looking at my bills for this coming semester at UT and I’m thinking, ‘Can I just stay at VC?’’’

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The #TXsuccess campaign is a collaboration between the Texas Association of Community College Marketers (TACCM) and the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) to showcase the value of Texas community colleges to legislators, policymakers, and communities in Texas.

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From the President | September 2016 Update

Melinda Eddleman | TACCM President
Melinda Eddleman TACCM President

It’s hard to believe that the Texas Association of Community College Marketers is now entering its fifth year. Being a fairly young organization, we’ve come a long way in a short amount of time thanks to our hardworking board members and your involvement as TACCM members.

I’m honored to serve as TACCM’s President for the next two years with the opportunity to carry on the great work and solid foundation your volunteer boards have established since 2012. In fact, we’re always looking for volunteers, so I invite you to share your expertise with TACCM both on the regional and state levels.

This July, the TACCM board met to review work accomplished over the past year and to set goals for this next year. Read more about these throughout this newsletter, including:

  • TACCM’s collaboration with the Texas Association of Community Colleges to implement a statewide communication plan for the #TXsuccess campaign designed to tell our community college success stories and their impact statewide as we move toward the 85th Texas Legislative Session.
  • Comprehensive conference planning as we head back to Austin for the 2017 conference. Dates and location will be forthcoming later this fall. Be sure to take the survey.
  • Networking opportunities that your Regional Directors are planning for this next year. Take time to get to know your Regional Director and don’t hesitate to contact them if you have questions.

Your TACCM membership is one of the best opportunities to connect with other marketing, public relations, design, web and social media, and recruitment professionals from community colleges not only in your region but also from across the state. TACCM also provides professional development opportunities, legislative updates and a listserv that serves as a resource when you need advice about particular issues, services or products to enhance efforts at your own community college. You also have access to the Membership Directory. We also host the free Career and Technical Education (CTE) exploration site called TEXASgenuine that serves as a valuable tool for career and college advisors statewide.

Why do I point out these benefits? Because it’s also time for membership renewal! If you haven’t renewed your membership already, take time to do so today. The grace period runs through September 30. And, remember, an institutional membership means EVERYONE at your college is a TACCM member!

I’d like to close this message with a very heartfelt “Thank You” to four individuals who moved off the TACCM board this past year. The association wouldn’t be where it is today without their involvement, including:

  • Lynn Goswick, now retired and founding TACCM President from Alvin Community College
  • Shelle Cassell, now retired and founding Membership Director from Grayson College
  • Samantha Uriegas, TACCM Mentor Director from South Texas College
  • Jennifer Aries, TACCM Development Consultant and Ex-Officio Board Member from 25th Hour Communications.

Again, I look forward to serving you during this next year. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to tell the best story Texas has to offer––the community, technical and junior college story! #TXsuccess … we look forward to seeing your stories!

Melinda Eddleman
2016-2018 TACCM President
Associate Director of Media Relations, Del Mar College

The #TXsuccess Campaign: We Need Your Help

Sample #TXsuccess social media post for September
Sample #TXsuccess social media post for September

We all know the value of Texas community colleges. After all, it’s our job to promote them in all corners of the state every single day. But while we’re thoroughly convinced of their value, there are many Texans and Texas legislators out there who don’t really understand how much of an impact community colleges make on higher education in Texas.

For the past few legislative cycles, Texas legislators have slashed community college funding.

We aren’t here to complain—what we’ve learned is that we have to collectively do a better job of helping the decision-makers in our state understand what services we provide, who we serve, and how we work every day to make this state a better place with a stronger economy. We have to help them understand that in order to achieve the ambitious goals of 60x30TX, our state must have strong, adequately funded community colleges.

The #TXsuccess Campaign is a way to help them understand, and we need your help.

TACCM is partnering with the Texas Association of Community Colleges to launch the #TXsuccess Campaign beginning this month. Based on feedback from TACCM membership, we’ve identified hot topics that affect community colleges statewide and have developed a statewide communication plan centered around those topics.

You’ll find that communication plan available for download on our #TXsuccess Campaign Resources page.

Here’s what else you’ll find there:

  • A monthly media release that can be customized to feature your college’s information, quotes and stats;
  • Social media posts that you can use as-is or customize with your own photos and colors;
  • and #TXsuccess talking points that your presidents will be using when they speak to legislators and decision-makers.

The point of this: for all of us, all over the state, to collectively promote Texas community colleges as a whole. In November, for example, we want everyone to be talking about how community colleges uniquely serve veterans.

There’s no particular entity out there campaigning for Texas community colleges. We’re it—the marketers at each community college in the state. And together, by taking just a few simple steps each month, we can make an impact.

How can you contribute? Each month, we’ll send out a notice that our new materials are available on the resources page. When you get that, we ask that you:

  • Distribute the media release to your news contacts—feel free to put it on your own letterhead and drop in your own quotes/facts/figures.
  • Schedule 3-4 #TXsuccess social media posts. You can use our images as-is, use the customizable Photoshop files to add your own photos, or just lift our talking points and make your own altogether. While we’re at it, let’s make #TXsuccess Tuesdays a thing. If you can, schedule your posts for Tuesdays.
  • Use the hashtags #TXsuccess and #txlege on everything you do. #TXsuccess will help us track the campaign, while #txlege will ensure that legislators/legislative aides will see the messaging.

And if you’re inspired by any of the #TXsuccess messaging, we hope you’ll take it a step further by writing additional media releases, creating videos, scheduling media events, purchasing ad space—whatever works best in your area. If you do, please use the #TXsuccess hashtag and share your successes with us!

Materials for September are available on the resource center right now.

Want an overview of the resource center and the #TXsuccess campaign? You can watch a recording of last week’s #TXsuccess webinar here.

Let’s show everybody in Texas the amazing work we’re doing in Texas community colleges.

 

Traci Pitman
TACCM Web & Social Media Director
Design & Creative Services Coordinator for Texarkana College