An instructor working with a middle-school student
High School Career Connect logo
HSCC Progress Report
Mentoring Tomorrow's Workforce
High School Career Connect logo

In 2017, Greater Texas Foundation awarded a grant to the University of North Texas to extend its college and career peer mentoring program to local middle and high schools.

The grant funded an initial three-year program called High School Career Connect to address critical issues in future generations of the Texas workforce: not enough high school graduates were going to college or technical school, fewer still were completing postsecondary education, and many were saddled with high student-loan debt.

Primarily through one-on-one peer mentors, HSCC provides career advice, postsecondary planning, and workforce trends to formulate career strategies. As a result, students possess individualized career paths, helping them graduate postsecondary education with an enhanced skillset and increased employment potential.

HSCC began its work in Spring 2018, and in Spring 2020 the program is in the midst of its second full school year. Here's how HSCC is performing:

Students Served

Greater Texas Foundation's goal for High School Career Connect was to serve 500 students in Denton County each year, a total of 1,500 students during its three-year grant.

HSCC has topped the three-year goal by 170 percent in just two years.

What qualifies as "served?" Simply sitting through an assembly or classroom presentation was deemed an insufficient standard. Instead, a student was "served" if he or she had a one-on-one session with an HSCC mentor.

In Spring-Summer 2018, HSCC began establishing connections with local schools, giving presentations, and training mentors, then conducted its first 45 one-on-one mentoring sessions in Denton and nearby Lake Dallas. HSCC embarked on its first full school year in 2018-2019, working with schools - public and private, middle and high - in Aubrey, Denton, Krum, Lake Dallas, Little Elm, Pilot Point, Ponder, and Sanger.

HSCC topped the annual goal in each of its first two full semesters, then served 160 more students in Summer 2019. In Fall 2019, HSCC doubled the annual goal:

Annual Goal Serve
Fall 2018 Total 570
Spring 2019 Total 666
Fall 2019 Total 1,112

The three-year goal was to serve 1,500 students. HSCC exceeded that goal in two years, and, with Spring 2020, Summer 2020, and Fall 2020 remaining in the initial three-year grant, is on pace to triple the three-year goal:

Three-Year Goal Serve
Two-Year Total 2,553

HSCC has conducted 3,928 mentoring sessions (some students have been mentored more than once). Between mentoring, classroom presentations, assemblies, career fairs, workshops, and emails, HSCC has made more than 25,000 touchpoints.

Postsecondary Enrollment

The test of HSCC's inaugural three years, however, is increasing the number of high-school graduates enrolling in college or trade school. While the majority of students mentored by HSCC will not graduate high school during the program's first three years, more than 200 participating students from Denton County have completed high school.

That original group of HSCC-mentored students enrolled in postsecondary education at a rate 67 percent higher than statewide and 79 percent more than Denton ISD prior to HSCC's formation.

Here are enrollment figures for four-year colleges and universities, two-year community and junior colleges, and trade and technical schools:

High School Graduates Enrolling In Postsecondary Education

Statewide, 2016-17
Four-Year College
Two-Year College
Denton ISD, 2016-17
Four-Year College
Two-Year College
HSCC-Mentored Students, 2018-19
Four-Year College
Two-Year College
Where We've Been

In its brief history, High School Career Connect has worked with more than 25,000 students in schools and communities scattered across more than 830 square miles of Denton County.

HSCC's area of operation has included:

Future Metrics

Several of High School Career Connect's performance targets cannot be measured yet. The program's ultimate goal - which was the motivation for the 83rd Texas Legislature's House Bill 5 and Greater Texas Foundation's funding of HSCC, is increasing Texas's postsecondary-educated workforce.

The majority of the students mentored to date have yet to graduate high school, and the middle school students have yet to reach high school. The eighth graders mentored in HSCC's first year will not be high school seniors until 2022-23, and will not be college seniors until 2026-27.

HSCC is tracking the progress of program alumni, and the following targets and milestones will be measured over the next several years:

Increase Freshmen Declaring Majors

HSCC's career assessments, guidance, and planning resources help students chose endorsements, arming students with individualized career paths, which is manifested in declaring a major in their freshman year.

Decrease Changing Majors

That higher career-path confidence decreases changing majors in college and allows students to follow their strategic plans for coursework, campus activities, and student employment.

Increase Postsecondary Graduation

In 2018, only 19 percent of Texas high-school graduates completed postsecondary education. HSCC's primary goal is to raise the number.

Decrease Student Loan Debt

By better preparing students for postsecondary education and decreasing change of majors, students complete postsecondary education faster and therefore with less student debt.

Increase Job Placement Or Graduate School Acceptance

Those individualized career paths and strategic plans allow students to maximize their postsecondary experience and enter the workforce with an enhanced skillset and increased employment potential.