Galveston College and Alvin Community College are the latest institutions to join the Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS) consortium, a regional collaboration of colleges and universities established in 2015 to increase college completion rates and streamline student transfer between two- and four-year institutions. The initiative helps students makes informed choices by providing academic maps, default course pathways, meta-majors, intrusive advising and more.
“I am thrilled that so many institutions see the value in partnering together to achieve student success,” said Paula Myrick Short, UHS senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I think that Houston GPS has really transformed the way we think about how students approach college, and what is the best fit for them. With each new institution that joins our ranks, there are new opportunities to learn from each other, and truly work together to tailor experiences and pathways that will work for today’s students.”
Just 40 miles south of Houston, Galveston College opened its doors in 1967 as a comprehensive community college. It currently serves approximately 2,300 students each semester in credit programs and almost 1,300 students annually in continuing education programs. It offers over 21 associate degrees and 17 certificate programs, as well as non-credit courses in English, reading, mathematics and study skills to prepare a wide discipline of students. Myles Shelton, president of Galveston College, focused on the benefits to the region.
“The necessity of more individuals holding appropriate degrees or certificates is an absolute for the well-being of our regional economy. Houston GPS provides a means for achieving long-term economic health of our region,” he said. “Our primary goal for Galveston College is to help students achieve their goal of earning a degree or certificate with successful career placement or transfer to a university to complete a bachelor’s degree. This is about helping every student succeed. Houston GPS is an outstanding and efficient tool to help students reach their goals and succeed.”
Alvin Community College was established as part of the Alvin Independent School District in 1948, and remained under that jurisdiction until 1971, when it became the Alvin Junior College District. In 2016, the college was named a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, and during the same year, was one of 67 in the U.S. named as part of the Second Chance Pell program, which offers scholarship assistance for incarcerated students. Its enrollment has grown from 134 students in 1949 to almost 6,000, and currently offers over 40 associate degrees, with three fully online degrees and numerous certificate programs.
“The partnership with Houston GPS has the potential to be the community college – university transfer blueprint for the state, making this region the gold standard for transfer partnerships. In addition, this partnership will help ensure that our region meets its 60×30 target goals,” said Christal M. Albrecht, president of Alvin Community College (ACC). “This partnership will provide the foundational work that ACC has accomplished in terms of transferability of courses and assure students that ACC course work will always transfer. It’s a partnership that helps to build trust between the institutions and the students.”
With the addition of these two community colleges, thirteen institutions encompassing more than 300,000 students make up the Houston GPS consortium: Alvin Community College, College of the Mainland, Galveston College, Houston Community College System, Lone Star College System, San Jacinto College District, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Downtown, University of Houston-Victoria, Victoria College, and Wharton County Junior College.