November 25, 2013

Arlington school district partners with university for early college initiative

About 1,500 students will receive early admission letters from UT Arlington in the next few weeks through the “Bound for Success” initiative.

Luis Leroy didn’t think he had a shot at going to college.

The 17-year-old Sam Houston High School junior said his mom constantly questions him about his future, and he doesn’t know what to tell her. But he now knows what to say.

Leroy is one of 1,500 Arlington high school juniors to receive an acceptance letter to the University of Texas at Arlington as a part of a initiative to encourage students to pursue higher education.

“I didn’t even expect to go to college,” Leroy said. “I didn’t think I would go.”

On Monday, Arlington school district Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos and UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari announced a partnership that will provide the top 20 percent of students in the Arlington school district with access to attend college through the new “Bound for Success” initiative.

The collaboration began about five months ago, when the superintendent and president got together to talk about why successful high school students do not apply to college. A recent Arlington school district survey revealed that 20 percent of graduating seniors did not apply for college, and about 27 percent of Hispanic seniors also did not apply.

“We can’t leave it to chance whether students will apply or get admitted to college. The more we can accelerate and bring those dreams closer, the more they can realize those dreams,” Cavazos said.

As part of the program, university admissions counselors will provide weekly academic counseling to high school students at their respective campuses. High school students will receive financial aid counseling and have access to special events on the UT Arlington campus to ease the transition.

Students will receive college credit through dual enrollment and online courses, Karbhari said. He said the advisers will instruct students on the right classes to take so they don’t lose credits in the transfer process.

Officials hope to incorporate the program into other school districts in the area in the future.

Krystyne Armstrong said she was already thinking about going to college, but now that UT Arlington reached out to her, she feels a “heightened” draw to the university.

The 16-year-old Bowie High School junior said financial aid is important to her.

“This is definitely not forced,” Armstrong said of going to UT Arlington. “It’s a good opportunity.”

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