Texas just made it easier for adults to return to college to finish their degrees on their own schedules and to use the college credit they’ve already earned.
By visiting the new web site GradTX.org, adults hoping to return to college can preview how their credits will count toward a bachelor’s degree at one of eight participating Texas universities. They can also connect with advisers at each university who specialize in meeting the unique needs of returning students.
Pronounced “Grad Texas,” Grad TX is a program, launched in August by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), targeting adults in Texas who “stopped out” of college in an effort to get them to return to finish a degree. Over the past five years, more than 40,000 adults in Texas stopped out of college with 90 or more credit hours before finishing the 120 credit-hour requirement to receive a bachelor’s degree. Another 28,000 adults have at least 45 semester credit hours and no degree. In total, some 3 million Texas residents over the age of 25 have some college credit and no degree.
“The THECB, working closely with our state colleges and universities, is focused on significantly increasing the number of college graduates,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes. “Encouraging and assisting our adult population to get back on track for a college degree is critical for Texas to become a national leader and global competitor.”
“My husband was there for me while I finished my degree, and now I can support us while he finishes his.”
— Limmissia College Grad at Age 33
— Limmissia College Grad at Age 33
“Many students who stopped out of college want to finish their degrees. We want them to realize that going back to college doesn’t mean starting over,” said Van Davis, THECB Director of Special Projects. “In most cases, returning students can apply the credit they’ve earned to a degree program they design themselves with the help of an adviser. The advisers at the participating universities are well-versed in working with returning students and know how to make the college enrollment process easy for them.”
GradTX.org features a credit-transfer tool that helps students find one or more universities where most of their prior coursework will transfer. The site also allows students to compare degree requirements at participating universities and to connect by email and phone with advisers who can discuss academic history, work experience, degree plans, financial aid options, and more. The participating institutions, which are not-for-profit public universities in Texas, include:
- Lamar University
- Midwestern State University
- Texas A&M University-Commerce
- Texas Tech University
- University of Houston-Downtown
- University of Houston-Clear Lake
- University of North Texas System
- The University of Texas at Brownsville
Five more Texas universities will be selected to join the program in 2012.
The universities offer a variety of options so that returning students can tackle school on their own schedules and in a way that integrates with their work and family lives. These options are designed to help students obtain a degree quickly and affordably:
- Classroom, online, and accelerated programs
- Convenient locations
- Flexible course schedules
- Affordable degree completion programs
- Financial aid and scholarship opportunities
- Unique degree programs that let students design their own major
- Several different ways to earn college credit including transfer credit, credit by exam, and credit for work experience
“Completing a degree can change individuals’ lives by better preparing them for careers and leading them to greater financial independence,” Davis said, explaining that, in 2010, the average weekly wage for workers without a college degree was $712. Workers with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $1,038.
The web site also offers tips for balancing work, family, and school, and special resources for active military members, veterans, and their families.
“We’re putting degree completion within reach,” Davis said.
More information on Grad TX is available by visiting www.GradTX.org.