Bexar County taxpayers have a stake in students following degree plans.
By Cynthia M. Herrera
Ex-student trustee Jacob Wong and District 8 trustee Clint Kingsbery presented the Alamo Institutes model May 12 during a meeting of the Student Success Committee of the board of trustees in Killen Center.
The new model would replace the old model, which has been used for over 70 years and is more focused on the modern student, according to their presentation. The committee approved the model to be presented to the full board.
The Alamo Institutes provide pathways for students to transition from high school to a community college and then to a senior college or an employer.
The institutes model provides advising for students that would prevent students from taking extra courses because advisers are required to keep in contact with students and their progress.
This model will save money for students and taxpayers, according to the presentation.
According to the Community College Survey of Student Engagement data presented, 80 percent of students in post-secondary education want to transfer to a four-year institution, but only 20 percent achieve their goal.
“We’re either not helping them achieve that goal or they are deciding that it’s not for them,” Wong said. “If that’s their goal, their dream, their wish, then why aren’t we making that happen?”
Kingsbery said that the plan is not to restrict students on the courses they take but to simply move them along in a timely manner.
“Students make the choice,” Kingsbery said. “It’s not up to us to make the choice for them, but we can present them with opportunities.”
Students sometimes graduate with 30 credits extra when degree plans consist of 60 credit hours, and those 30 credit hours don’t transfer to a student’s desired senior college, according to the presentation.
In 2014, 7,000 students graduated from the five district colleges. In Texas, the average student has 92 semester hours when graduating, which cost $2,000 extra in tuition for the 30 hours beyond a 60-hour degree, according to the presentation.
Using those statewide figures, the 7,000 students could have spent an extra $14 million in tuition.
The presentation pointed out that students taking extra semester hours are using financial aid, including scholarships, on semester hours that are not counted toward a degree.
Bexar County taxpayers would spend $46 million by 2017 on students taking courses they cannot count toward a four-year degree, according to the presentation.
If Alamo Colleges eliminates students taking 30 extra semester hours, that would save the taxpayers $26 million by 2017.
Kingsbery said that savings would be used more efficiently toward spending on programs and faculty.
“As much as you all love your money, we love ours more,” Wong said as a student.
Criminal justice Professor Tiffany Cox represented Faculty Senate at this college and presented a coherent course of study to help students transfer as a true junior at other institutions.
This college has seven of 29 concentrations that are fully transferable, Cox said.
If planned correctly and efficiently, pathways among all the colleges would be able to connect to other institutions and have courses transfer, she said.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zarate asked Cox if there were any students who transferred to other institutions successfully with all their credits.
Cox said that she had several students walk the stage May 9 during this college’s commencement with an associate degree in criminal justice because they followed a degree plan.