Why Postsecondary Attainment Matters
Given the enormous social and economic benefits associated with completing a credential or degree beyond high school, the Partnership is dedicated to increasing postsecondary participation and completion rates in Dallas County – particularly among low-income and first generation college-going students of all ages.
The average earnings of college graduates are twice that of workers with only a high school diploma and unemployment rates are notably less. Additionally, of the 30 fastest growing occupations, more than 50% require a postsecondary education.
Dallas County Snapshot: Postsecondary Attainment
of Dallas County adults hold a 2-year or 4-year degree, well below the 60% goal for our region by 2025.
of students that enroll in a postsecondary education complete a 2- or 4-year degree within six years
of area high school seniors currently enroll in a postsecondary institution following high school
of Dallas County seniors completed a federal financial aid application, necessary to receive any financial aid
Postsecondary Attainment Initiatives
To help codify knowledge of post-secondary enrollment obstacles, the Partnership conducted a learning tour, interviewing key school staff and students in 14 local high schools. A practice guide was subsequently published, identifying local examples of replicable practices to increase postsecondary access, many of which are cost-neutral. Additional resources specific to financial aid, including information on upcoming workshops that are planned and hosted by TxCAN-NT members can be found at YouCanAffordCollege.org.
Why financial aid? The perceived inability to pay for college remains the largest barrier to students applying and enrolling in postsecondary education. Thousands more high school seniors can access college or other postsecondary education opportunities with greater understanding and personalized support from financial aid advisors.
All of these initiatives are aligned with a statewide collaboration, Texas Completes, focused on improving college persistence and completion. In the first iteration, the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) focused on several key areas: redesigning core curriculum, improving developmental education, strengthening advising and faculty professional development, creating program of study guidance, and building a technology system for advising and graduation. DCCCD recently completed the first two years of this initiative and has partnered with Commit! on several projects, including the ones outlined here.
What Collective Impact Looks Like
Through the Higher Education and Workforce Support Council, the Texas College Access Network – North Texas, and several project-specific working groups the Commit! Partnership works to ensure all young adults in Dallas County have the option to enroll, persist, and complete a postsecondary program that yields a credential with labor market value.
The Commit! Partnership 20+ member Higher Education and Workforce Support council meets bi-monthly to provide input on collaborative strategies and community-wide goals. By reviewing data as a community of business leaders, universities, foundations, nonprofits, and K-12 district leaders, we are better able to make progress to our postsecondary attainment goals.
The Partnership acts as project manager for the Texas College Access Network-North Texas (TxCAN-NT). Representing 55 organizations, network members include over 80 school counselors, college admissions and financial aid representatives, and staff from non-profits working in college access. Members of the Support Council and TxCAN-NT come together in project specific working groups to address key issue areas such as college affordability, summer supports, financial literacy, and dual-credit programs.
College Access News and Events
The 2015-2016 school year brought many reasons to celebrate, including an increase in FAFSA/TAFSA completion rates in five districts and an increase in college enrollment after the hard-to-navigate summer months for students participating in the [...]
The Partnership’s efforts aligned with a growing community investment in Postsecondary Attainment are leading to strong momentum for Dallas County student achievement. While priority indicator data lags one to two years for this postsecondary area [...]
Dallas ISD and DCCCD Early College High School Expansion: A Focus on Postsecondary Access and Completion
Some could say that Dallas County is truly a “tale of two counties." While growth in jobs and housing values have been in top rankings nationally, Dallas County leads Texas’ five largest counties in both [...]