Transition Texas Launched This Fall

September 2014 | Houston, Texas
BY: Amy Williams and Claudette Jenks

With the beginning of the 2014 - 2015 school year, 11 community colleges across Texas unveiled a new college and career readiness (CCR) program that can be utilized in both 2 and 4-year institutions of higher education (IHE). TransitionTX provides a combination of academic and social support to help first-time-in-college (FTIC) students navigate through the first year of college. These colleges have a significant percentage of first generation, low-income, Hispanic, and African American students. It is based on a train-the-trainers model, which allows for affordability and convenience during the implementation process. 

The TransitionTX project was developed utilizing Vincent Tinto's model of implementing student persistence programs and expanding four proven first-year experience (FYE) programs into one comprehensive, first-year program called TransitionTX. This combination of academic and social supports is designed to help first generation, low-income, Hispanic, and African American first-time-in-college (FTIC) students navigate their first year at eleven public, two-year community colleges in Texas.

Programmatic components include:

1) A First Year Seminar (FYS) Course-As part of their Quality Enhancement Plan, Amarillo College (AC), in partnership with Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), piloted an award winning FYS approach. In addition to teaching standard college readiness skills, AC's well-designed FYS integrates key student services and experiences into the course while connecting students to additional college resources including mandatory peer tutoring, advising, and financial aid. This FYS approach transitions entering students through their college experience by teaching knowledge and skills applicable across courses, semesters and careers.

2) An intensive 16 hour train-the-trainer professional development experience for FYS instructors providing necessary curricular and pedagogical knowledge foundation to facilitate the seminar.

3) Peer Tutoring for FYS students conducted by work-study students who also benefit from the training and work experience. 

4) With a THECB grant, the First-Year Calling program launched at San Jacinto College (SJC) in 2009. The program helps first-time students' transition into college life using three strategies: targeted phone calls from program Student Leaders to first-time students, a virtual "New Student Newsletter" and inviting students to social events during their first two semesters. The goal of the Calling Program is to improve student retention by connecting first-time students with trained student leaders, who engage them through a series of phone calls designed to create a deeper connection to the campus community. 

By utilizing these strategies, TransitionTX is expected to positively impact FTIC student transitions by improving persistence in their second year of postsecondary participation. In addition, higher grades in first-year courses, sustained credit accumulation, and higher rates for 3-year graduation or transfers to 4-year institution are expected to occur. 

These program strategies and goals align with Texas' postsecondary strategy of maintaining student momentum through educational transition points focused on student outcomes.

Participating institutions were selected based on their existing infrastructure including an operational student work-study program and a FYS course.

Participating Institutions

Amarillo College (Trainer)

 Lone Star College-Montgomery

Dallas County CCD - Cedar Valley College

 Lone Star College-North Harris

Dallas County CCD - Eastfield College

 Lone Star College-Tomball

Dallas County CCD - El Centro College

 Lone Star College-University Park

Lone Star College-CyFair

 Odessa College

Lone Star College-Kingwood

 Victoria College

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is working with Amarillo College to continue to facilitate these promising practices at additional institutions interested in learning more about the TransitionTX model. 

“We are building on the great work Amarillo College has done to increase student success. The model has potential to expand these comprehensive practices to other campuses across the state and support our success efforts in Closing the Gaps,” said Claudette Jenks, Assistant Director, College Readiness.

For additional information, contact Claudette Jenks, or visit the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board website.