It's a trend not only effecting Austin, but the whole nation. Many high school graduates are not going to or completing college.
University of Texas leaders are hoping to help reverse this trend by helping high school students prepare for the rigors of college courses, through its pilot program called Texas MicroMajor.
"The big difference I noticed between high school and college was the different study habits I was going to need, test schedule was completely different from what I was used to in high school,” said UT student Kelsey Mumford.
To ease the transition and help them develop better study habits, UT leaders are working with Austin ISD to implement the program.
“We already have more than a thousand students in AISD who are taking UT Austin courses,” said Harrison Keller, UT Deputy to the President for Strategy and Policy, “What we're doing that's different with MicroMajors is we're creating these pathways that consist of multiple courses, that helps the students be ready for, let's say, a STEM major or arts and humanities major."
Mumford is just one UT student who took AP and dual enrollment classes, known as On-Ramps, in high school. She said the classes not only helped her flourish at UT, but also land a job related to her major in a research lab in her first year.
"Whenever I got to the interview, they were asking me if I was a junior or a senior, and I told them I was a freshman, and they were just astonished that I already had these statistical skills already, because I already got them with my On-Ramps classes,” she said.
To earn a MicroMajor, students must take at least two courses from an approved list of UT Austin dual-credit courses, which means dual-enrollment or online offerings, and may take up to two other approved Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or college courses for a total of four courses.
The long-term goal is to expand this program beyond Austin.
"Our plan is to not only across AISD, but school districts across the state of Texas,” said Keller.
Austin ISD parents and high schoolers who are interested in the Texas MicroMajor program can talk to their school counselors this spring about applying for this pilot program for the 2017-18 school year.