Houston GPS Initiative Supporting Transfer Students Throughout the Region
Oct. 17, 2022
By Mike Emery, 713-743-7197
What do “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, bestselling author Amy Tan, baseball legend Jackie Robinson and Oscar-winner Tom Hanks have in common?
All of these trailblazers began their higher education experiences at community colleges and then transferred to four-year universities. They are prime examples of successful transfer students, who emerged from their respective institutions ready to change the world.
National Transfer Student Week runs Oct. 17 - 21, spotlighting those students starting their journeys at community colleges; continuing their quests at universities; and ultimately, beginning new adventures with degrees in hand.
In the Houston area, 13 institutions are committed to the success of transfer students within the region. This coalition, known as Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS), helps students seamlessly transition from community colleges to universities.
Houston GPS institutions include the University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Victoria, Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, Houston Community College, Lone Star College, Alvin Community College, College of the Mainland, San Jacinto Community College District, Galveston College and Wharton County College.
Students attending these institutions can use Houston GPS’ degree maps to chart a course toward their selected bachelor’s degrees. These degree maps essentially outline those community college courses that will transfer to a student’s university of choice. Likewise, they offer guidance for students entering a four-year institution as to which classes to take for their respective majors.
Additionally, community college and university advisors work in tandem to effectively guide students to their final destinations of completing their degrees without excess credit hours or additional debt.
Those key words, “without excess credit hours or additional debt,” are critical to Houston GPS’ mission.
“Our goal is to help students navigate clear academic pathways, free from detours, and with the final destination of graduating clearly in sight,” said Teri Longacre, University of Houston associate dean for academic affairs.
Houston GPS began at UH under the watchful eye of Provost Emeritus Paula Myrick Short and is driven by a Governing Council comprised of college and university chancellors, presidents, and other academic officers.
“Houston GPS plays an essential role on each of our campuses and throughout the region,” said Dr. Loren J. Blanchard, UHD president and chair of the Houston GPS Governing Council. “The mantra at my university is ‘Once a student is enrolled, then the clock begins ticking on our responsibility to make sure they persist and graduate.’ This philosophy holds true for all of our institutions, and Houston GPS helps us ‘beat the clock,’ so to speak. We’re able to work together to ensure students achieve their goal of earning bachelor’s degrees in a timely manner.”
Further supporting Houston GPS’ efforts is the Equity Walk Initiative, a project focused on providing equitable academic outcomes for students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“The Equity Walk Initiative is really helping us change the conversation,” said Brenda Hellyer, chancellor of the San Jacinto Community College District. “We all can see achievement gaps in our student populations. We can look at age differences, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomics. We’re now having conversations on what can we do to make sure all of our students are succeeding.”
During National Transfer Student Week, Houston GPS will celebrate those transfer students — or those who will transfer soon —who are making the grade at their respective institutions. Houstonians also are encouraged to spotlight their friends or family members who are transfers/future transfers on social media with the hashtag #TransferStudentWeek.