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Program provides gateway to college

From high school to junior college to a four-year university, The College Connection Program has become a gateway to education.

Due to a federal grant issued through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, TJC is working with high schools throughout East Texas to increase participation in higher education among target populations, according to TJC officials.

Tyler Junior College decided to take part in The College Connection Program “to provide assistance to a certain population that normally wouldn’t go to college,” said Kaye Morriss, transfer specialist with College Connection.

TJC applied for the grant from the State of Texas and received an $84,000 grant in January.

During that time, the College Connection Program was becoming established at TJC. Schools were picked to participate in the program including, Robert E. Lee, John Tyler, Jacksonville, Chapel Hill, Lindale, Troup, Arp, and New Summerfield.

“To determine which schools to include in the program, school officials looked for “schools in service and diversity in student population,” said Janna Chancey, executive director of Enrollment Management Services.

Now more than 900 seniors at these high schools are eligible to participate in this program.

To further encourage students to attend TJC through the College Connection Program, TJC doesn’t pick students to be in the program, but allows every senior to take part in it.

The State of Texas is funding the College Connection Program until Aug, 13 2010.

“And if successful, possibly making it go on over a year or two,” said Morriss.

But the funding for the program does not come to the students in the form of a check.

“Money isn’t being offered to students as a scholarship TJC is receiving money as a grant to fund the services provided in the program,” said Chancey.

Some believe that it will benefit TJC by gaining new students who weren’t planning on attending college or who don’t understand the enrollment process. This program may also benefit the community by helping address at-risk groups that normally would have a low rate of college attendees.

This program may persuade young adults to go to college “because they feel like they have a support system and assistance from others,” said Morriss.

When the program began, TJC educated students about available scholarships and free Accuplacer test where given to 400 students. This gesture helped high school students feel more comfortable about the program and attending college after high school.

“The students of the different high schools are really appreciating the program and think it is beneficial,” said Chancey.

High schools that participate in the College Connection Program also see the benefits.

“In this economy, kids need to know the value of going to college and of getting a degree,” said Dr. Katie Preast, executive director of curriculum and instruction with the Troup Independent School District.

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