Nationwide only half of students enrolled in community colleges graduate. But two Texas colleges are getting top honors for helping more students succeed.
Every two years, more than a 1,000 community colleges compete for the Aspen Prize, worth $1 million.
This year two Texas schools emerged as “rising star” finalists: Odessa College in West Texas and San Jacinto College in Pasadena.
Josh Wyner with the Aspen Institute said that they both boosted their graduation rates from below the national average to on par.
“And they’ve done it because of a really intentional way of working with faculty, to get them to improve student belonging in the classroom, to student learning and to create clearer pathways all the way to a degree,” Wyner said.
He said that they found creative solutions by crunching data.
Brenda Hellyer, chancellor at San Jacinto, which enrolls a large number of Hispanic students, said that the award is recognition they’re on the right track.
“That’s why this award is so important to us. We are trying to make sure that no student is left behind, no group is left behind, regarding race, ethnicity, age, male or female,” she said.
While these two awards carry prestige, the top Aspen Prize brings money – $1 million. That went to Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota.