Texas launches social media website to help college students

This article has been modified from the way it was originally published in the Star-Telegram and on to correct the Generation TX web site URL.

FORT WORTH -- Now young Texans can go grassroots in their search for scholarships, financial aid and majors in a familiar place -- the Internet., a social media clearinghouse, went live Wednesday. The resource is part of the state's Generation TX initiative, which is expected to boost college enrollment.

"It's about making opportunities available to everyone," said Gov. Rick Perry, stressing that the site will help young people who are the first in their families to go to college.

"Blaze a new trail," Perry urged. "Be a pioneer and begin a new tradition of higher education."

Perry and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, were among dignitaries joining Raymund Paredes, the commissioner of higher education, to help launch the site during a ceremony at the Tarrant County College South Campus in Fort Worth.

Generation TX aims to spur a community-based movement that provides Texas students and families with the resources and support they need to find and stay on the path to college or career education.

On the website, students can help one another as they maneuver through college applications, class planning, test preparation and financial aid. It also serves as a social network with profiles of students and will have a calendar with events sorted by ZIP code and topic. There are also videos with narratives from students, parents and community leaders.

The first two years of the effort will be funded by a $3 million federal College Access Challenge Grant. Pilot programs for the project are being held in San Antonio and Fort Worth.

The website is a key tool in building higher-education connections among today's students.

"It's really cool because it puts all of the information that is scattered in one place," said Amanda Western, a TCC student who is the first in her family to pursue higher education. "It is beyond frustrating because you have to go back and forth to different people."

Janet Gonzales, a bilingual-education major at Texas Woman's University, said lack of access to college preparation is a huge stumbling block for young people. She works to get more first-generation Hispanic students through that process so they can become role models.

"We need our [Hispanic and Latino] population to become somebody and be an example to the next generation," Gonzales said.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675