Texas Tech Grant Targets Estacado High School

Educators work to change college-going culture on local high school campus.

A culture change at Lubbock’s Estacado High School may find more of its graduates showing up on college campuses, thanks to a service grant project conducted by Texas Tech University’s College of Education. The federally funded $99,000 College Access Challenge Grant (CACG), was awarded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2008 to help change the college-going culture at Estacado High School. The two-year initiative was written and directed by Stephanie Jones, assistant professor of higher education in the College of Education. Erika Langill Warnick, a Texas Tech doctoral student in higher education, was the activities coordinator for the grant. Joining Texas Tech on the mission were the Lubbock Independent School District, South Plains College and Learn Inc. “The main focus of the grant was to educate students at Estacado High School on what it means to go to college and what processes are involved, as well as how to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid),” Jones said.  “Numerous day and evening college knowledge sessions were held during the past two years for students and parents, to help inform them of the processes involved in going to college.” Jones said the most significant accomplishment for the second year was being able to expand the outreach to all four high schools in the Lubbock Independent School District. “The activities and partnerships established through the CACG grant have created the beginnings of a change in the culture at Estacado High School, as well as helped to provide more events and services at the other three schools, Coronado, Monterey and Lubbock High. “We continue to nurture the culture at Estacado, as it has the most under-resourced student populations. When speaking with counselors and students at this high school, they have seen a change in the culture to one that is more focused on going to college.  We believe that we have made significant impact in providing students opportunities to learn about the benefits and processes involved in going to college after high school.  Many of the students were not knowledgeable of the college-going process, which can be overwhelming,” Jones said. The first-year funds provided a dozen weekly walk-in FAFSA services, four college nights and four FAFSA workshops for 280 juniors and seniors. More than 50 parents were served with four college nights and two FAFSA workshops. As a two-year initiative, services funded and provided by the grant included scholarships for students to participate in dual credit courses at South Plains College, testing fees for college entrance exams, two leadership summer camps for EHS students, one held in 2009 and one held this past summer. This fall it will provide a test preparation and test taking strategies seminar for EHS juniors and seniors for the PSAT/SAT. In addition to the services provided, the grant also purchased laptop computers and printers for Estacado’s GO! Center, a location where students and parents can go for one-on-one help with completing college applications, financial aid forms and any other questions they have concerning the college-going process. Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu. CONTACT: Stephanie Jones, assistant professor, College of Education, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-1997 ext. 245, or stephanie.j.jones@ttu.edu.