Central Texas College could be active partner, offer fi-nancial benefit to students
Originall published December 3rd, 2014
The news last week that Hill Country University Center will seek a new community college partner is good for our community.
Leaders at the four-year-old HCUC will try to change its lower-level course provider from Austin Community College to Central Texas College. We strongly support this effort and ask locals to do the same.
Central Texas College, based in Killeen, is an entrepreneurial institution which has found success offering skills training, general studies and community education courses to thousands in the Fort Hood area. CTC already serves Burnet, Llano and Mason counties, so expansion into Gillespie could be done without huge additional expense.
But its benefits to students would be great. A lower threshold for the number of students required to “make” a course — 12 compared to ACC’s 18 — means more courses could be offered locally.
Costs for Central Texas College would be much more manageable. Tuition for a typical three-hour course at CTC runs around $279, compared to $861 at ACC. That could save a student thousands over 42 hours of lower-level course study.
CTC also has a focus on skills training that fits in well with the vision of Dr. Eric Wright, Fredericksburg Independent School District superintendent. Its emphasis on technical programs leading to associate degrees and vocational offerings leading to employment would be welcome in any area.
Even CTC’s mission statement focuses on “student success and employability.” Nationwide, even with a stubbornly high unemployment rate, many skills jobs go unfilled. This would be another direction for students more adapted to skills training, as opposed to the traditional four-year degree program.
Austin Community College has been a worthy partner for the past two decades for Fredericksburg, helping many students get college courses under way while still in high school and doing so at an affordable cost.
But as the ACC business model has changed, so has its need to generate more local revenue from students. And since they have no property tax revenue here, that has meant a rise in tuition prices. Still, for their time and investment in this community, we are grateful.
The transition for students should be seamless, but two informational and advising sessions will be held at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 17 and at 6 p.m., Jan. 15 at HCUC. CTC advisers will be present at the second meeting. Call HCUC at (830) 997-2717 for more information.
Of course all of this has to be approved by the legislature, so we encourage everyone to contact State Rep. Doug Miller and State Sen. Troy Fraser and ask them to help usher this bill through in the upcoming 84th session (January through May).
Higher education is hugely important to the continued success of this area, and it helps diversify Gillespie County’s offerings beyond tourism. Programs at both CTC and Texas Tech University could be steered to job market needs, as TTU has already done with its viticulture, enology and hospitality management offerings.
We look forward to a successful transition and getting to know CTC leaders. And we thank HCUC leaders who helped explore this issue and find a partner that will benefit our students and the community alike.
CENTRAL TEXAS COLLEGE
Based in Killeen, CTC was founded in 1965 by citizens of Central Texas joined together to authorize the building of a community college that would serve the western section of Bell County; Burnet, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Llano, Mason, Mills and San Saba counties; portions of McCulloch and Williamson counties; as well as Fort Hood and the state correctional facilities in Gatesville. Its Killeen campus was constructed on 560 acres of land donated by Fort Hood through the Department of Education and with funds supplied through a local $2 million bond issue. CTC is accredited by the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools to award associates degrees and certificates of completion.
State Senator Troy Fraser
101 U.S. Highway 281 North, Suite 203
Marble Falls, TX 78654
State Representative Doug Miller
407 W. Mill St.
New Braunfels, TX 78130