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.


2016 TACCM Conference Recap, Presentations Now Online

Last month, 102 attendees representing 27 Texas community and technical colleges gathered in Corpus Christi for the 2016 TACCM Conference.

Left to right: Dr. Mark Escamilla (Del Mar College), Dr. Cesar Maldonado (Houston Community College), Dr. Shirley Reed (South Texas College) and Dr. David Hinds (Victoria College) participated in the “Straight Talk” panel discussion.

“Transitioning Tides” was a fitting theme for TACCM’s fourth annual conference. After holding the conference in Austin our first three years, the TACCM Board decided to move this year’s event to Corpus Christi in response to feedback from our membership.

Congrats to Kristina Saar with Brookhaven College who won a Chromebook as a part of the “Meet People, Win Stuff” activity!

Keynotes focused on key changes to the community college landscape, covering topics such as the new 60x30TX Strategic Plan and a statewide communication plan that will be launched this summer by the Texas Association of Community Colleges in collaboration with TACCM member colleges (more info to come soon). Most of the presentations for the keynotes and breakouts are now available online.

Dr. Steven Johnson with TACC provided an update on the 85th Legislative Session.

Members were also brought up to speed on the TACCM Board’s three goals for the year: (1) Develop regional networking opportunities; (2) engage members; and (3) strengthen collaboration between TACCM and TACC. We’ve made progress in each of these areas, but as a fairly young organization, there’s still a lot of work to do. I’ve enjoyed serving the organization as president over the last two years, but I’m also looking forward to transitioning to past president as new leadership takes TACCM to the next level. And I look forward to seeing you all again at next year’s conference in Austin!

Outgoing and incoming board members posed for a quick photo at the end of the conference.

Pictured left to right, front row, are: Jed Young, Lone Star College, Southeast Texas regional director; Tisha Sternadel, Victoria College (VC), outgoing secretary; Darin Kazmir, VC, past president; Melinda Eddleman, Del Mar College, president; and Nick Alvarado, Texas State Technical College (TSTC), newly elected vice president. Middle row: Samantha Uriegas, South Texas College, mentor director; Maria Aguirre, TSTC, West Texas regional director; Lisa Wilhelmi, McLennan Community College (MCC), treasurer; Traci Pitman, Texarkana College, web and social media director; Ashlee Estlack, Clarendon College, newly elected secretary; and Ann Hatch, Dallas County Community College District, North Texas regional director. Back row: Elizabeth Garza, VC, newly elected membership director; Lynda Lopez, TSTC, South Texas regional director; Clif-Ann Paris, MCC, Central Texas regional director; Elizabeth Steele, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, ex-officio board member; and Jodi Weber, North Texas Community College, public relations director. Not pictured are Margaret Ruff, Paris Junior College, legislative director; Lynn Goswick, retired, outgoing past president; Dr. Steven Johnson, TACC, ex-officio board member; Shelle Cassell, retired, outgoing membership director; and Jennifer Aries, 25th Hour Communications, ex-officio board member.

College is What’s Next: Victoria College and the GenTX Movement

IMG_1822Does your college participate in the Generation TX movement? If not, you should! Generation TX, or GenTX, is a statewide initiative started by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to encourage an entire generation of Texans to pursue education or training after high school.

Victoria-area GenTX partners have been hosting GenTX Decision Day celebrations in May for the last three years. But this year, we’ve decided to step up our efforts by offering activities throughout the year.

The week before Thanksgiving was GenTX College Application Week. Area students participated in fun activities all week long (such as face painting, mascot appearances, and wearing college T-shirts).

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High school students were given the task of decorating their classroom door with career information (salary, educational requirements, interesting facts). The winning class won a pizza party!

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GenTX volunteers helped more than 500 high school seniors complete the ApplyTexas application during GenTX Week, while Captain Vic, Victoria College’s mascot, paid a visit to several elementary and middle schools.

We’re now planning a FAFSA Super Saturday for February, where we’ll offer students and families free assistance with financial aid and scholarship applications. Then in May, we’ll be hosting our fourth GenTX Decision Day celebrating graduating seniors and their postsecondary plans while reminding all our youth that “college is what’s next.”

If your college isn’t a part of the GenTX movement, I encourage you to bring key community partners (school districts, institutions of higher education, businesses, media, youth organizations, etc.) together to start brainstorming ideas. It’s a great outreach initiative, and the THECB provides some awesome planning guides and resources for local GenTX organizers (

If you’re already participating, I’d love to hear what’s working well in your community.

Darin Kazmir, TACCM President
Director of Marketing & Communications
Victoria College