A three-year, $450,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will pave the way for nearly 50 low-income Austin Community College students to transfer to Southwestern University.
“This program opens up another exciting opportunity in our growing relationship with Austin Community College and the transfer students we serve,” said Dave Voskuil, vice president for enrollment services at Southwestern, in a statement.
The grant will also allow each group of students enrolled over the three-year period to be supported by a network of services aimed at helping them earn a bachelor’s degree, according to a news release.
“There will be a high level of support for students going through the process,” Voskuil said.
Two groups of students will be selected in the 2012–13 school year; one group will transfer in spring 2013 and the other in fall 2013.
“We are trying to educate our students about all transfer options that exist between public and private institutions in the area,” said Virginia Fraire, dean of students at ACC's Riverside Campus and process holder for transfer services at ACC. “Our goal is to create a much smoother transition for students who are interested in going from ACC to Southwestern.”
The program will target students at ACC who are first-generation, low-income college students, Fraire said.
Transfer students will participate in group seminars and will work together on civic engagement projects for team building and academic enrichment.
Southwestern will sponsor weeklong academic programs for students during the summer, and students who enter the program in its first year will serve as peer mentors for students in following years, according to the release.
Some of the grant funds will be used to hire a postdoctoral fellow, recruited from a local university with an education graduate program such as The University of Texas or Texas State University, to run the program.
The grant will also fund a part-time transfer specialist at ACC to assist students in selecting courses that transfer to avoid losing credit hours.
A website featuring transfer opportunities to private colleges and universities in the Central Texas area will also be developed using grant money, Fraire said.
“We are really excited about this,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to sending more students that way.”
Nearly half of ACC’s credit students are seeking transfer credits, and the number of students transferring from ACC to Southwestern has risen from 27 in 2007 to 42 in 2011, according to the release.