Creating Seamless Pathways to Student Success
A Seat at the Table with Chancellor Flores: The Promise to Promise Partnership: Creating Seamless Pathways to Student Success
In November 2022, the Alamo Colleges and University at Texas at San Antonio announced an expanded transfer agreement that, for the first time, allows eligible students to start at any of the five Alamo Colleges and then transfer to UTSA to complete a four-year degree while having educational costs covered at both institutions.
Dr. Taylor Eighmy, UTSA President, and San Antonio College graduate and current UTSA Student, Nia Houston, recently took part in A Seat at the Table with Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores for a conversation on how ACD and UTSA are creating seamless pathways to student success.
Nia Houston is among the first group of students in the Promise-to-Promise program, which is being piloted this fall and will be available broadly to eligible students admitted to UTSA for Fall 2023.
About 75% of Alamo Colleges students transfer to four-year universities to complete their degrees. The majority of those who transfer enroll at UTSA. On average, the first-year retention rate for UTSA transfer students from the Alamo Colleges is 85% and the average time to graduation is 2.7 years.
How Promise-to-Promise came to be
Back in 2019, we launched our Bold Promise program and it was intended to serve students from Texas who had previously graduated from Texas high schools who had filled out a FAFSA, and who had a certain GPA. We wanted to serve that community coming in whose families' income was below something like $55,000. And so we launched that program in 2019 knowing full well that it was deeply impactful to that population because of the urgency around student success tied intimately to this notion of affordability and debt aversion. So launching that in 2019 was impactful and I think [ACD’s] program launched around the same time and we started to noodle together on how we could eventually produce something like Promise-to-Promise. In 2021, we were able to expand our Bold Promise program and increase the family income level to $70,000. … As you know, our students care greatly about the cost of attendance and can’t afford to really accrue much debt, so the last dollars are really important for student outcomes relative to educational journeys. It has been an important strategy for us to have our Bold Promise program in place.
Flores: We’re placing the importance on students in the student journey. UTSA is our largest receiving university. All of the courses our students take here transfer directly into their programs.
How Alamo Colleges & UTSA are working together to remove barriers and create seamless pathways to success
Eighmy: When I look at our very important relationship about 40 percent of our undergraduate population come from two-year programs and about half of them are from ACD, so [ACD] is a deeply impactful and strategic partner for us. It really reflects the fact that we have this very important shared mission about equity and educational attainment. Back in 2017-2018, maybe 2019, we worked together as the two institutions - ACD and UTSA - on three big things. One was the dual admissions, dual enrollment program and the second was this early pathway from high school to a two-year to four-year completion so that was a seamless process and the third thing was this Promise-to-Promise concept. If you think about Promise-to-Promise, the power of being able to attend ACD for free and then to attend ACD for free is a really important pathway to think about considering the students that we serve.
How Promise-to-Promise is making an impact on Nia’s college journey
Houston: Right now I’m on the path to graduate this summer in 2023 with my bachelor’s degree in business administration. My hours from San Antonio College transferred over to UTSA super easily, I was very lucky to have that. … I’m trying to see if I’m going to get my Master’s degree, but I'm on the path to just further my career with H-E-B, going through the program to see if I can be a leader within the company and just work my way up the ladder.