Advise TX, as part of the national College Advising Corps, works to increase the number of first-generation, low-income, and/or underrepresented students who apply, enter and complete college. The College Advising Corps does this by placing recent college graduates from a partner university as full-time college advisers in some of America’s underserved high schools. Advise TX provides the support that Texas high-need students require to navigate the complex processes of college admissions, matriculation and security financial aid. The University of Texas at Austin chapter serves 21 schools in Central Texas, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley, Houston and Dallas.
The Advise TX College Advising Corps is sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and private foundations and business. The program started in 2009 when The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Public School Initiatives placed fifteen recent UT Austin graduates into service. The Institute received a grant from the THECB to expand the program to 120 advisers in 2011. Now Advise TX has chapters at The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University and Trinity University.
Near-Peer Mentoring: Advise TX advisers come from all fields of study and are chosen for qualities that enable them to easily develop peer and role-model relationships with the students they advise. As recent graduates of UT Austin, they understand the current complexities of the college application process. Many advisers are first-generation and minority students themselves, reflecting the characteristics of the students whom they advise.
Intensive Training: UT Austin recruits Advise TX advisers and intensively trains them for three to four weeks. Advisers gain the knowledge and skills necessary to guide their students, foster a college-going culture and become advocates in their communities. Advisers become knowledgeable about all education options, including certificate programs, associate degrees, and baccalaureates. Training includes campus visits to colleges and universities throughout the state.
Whole School Service: Advise TX fosters a college-going culture within schools by serving any student at any grade level. Advisers collaborate with teachers and administrators to supplement, not replace, existing high school counseling staff. Advisers devise creative approaches to connect with students and host events and workshops at their campus.
Best-Fit Advising: Advisers are not recruiters for UT. They help high school students choose and enroll in the postsecondary option that is the best fit for their skills and interests–one where they will be most likely to succeed and complete a degree or meaningful credential–whether at a university, community college or technical college. Advisers help students weigh factors such as institutional characteristics, academic requirements, costs, financial aid and possible careers within a chosen field of study. Advisers encourage students to apply to three or more institutions so that they will have many options to choose from.
Rigorous Data Collection: Advisers document their students’ progress in the College Advising Corps’ custom database, GRACE. This database contains detailed profiles on individual students, recording interactions with their adviser, FAFSA completion, college applications and more. GRACE also generates school-wide reports to inform advisers and administrators of their school’s progress.
About the UT Austin Chapter
The UT Austin chapter began in 2010-11 with 15 advisers serving in Houston, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley. The UT Austin expanded its program in 2011-2012 with 64 advisers serving in Central Texas, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. With the addition of the four university chapters, UT Austin currently serves in 21 high schools in the following regions: Central Texas, El Paso, Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.
Attributes that distinguish the Advise TX model include the following:
- Advise TX is a near-peer model. Advisers are close in age to the students that they serve.
- Advise TX works in partnership with colleges and universities across the state, drawing on their infrastructure and resources.
- Advise TX advisers serve the whole school, rather than a cohort of particular students, to foster a school-wide college-going culture.
- Advise TX participates in a national external evaluation to quantitatively measure outcomes and qualitative results.
- Advise TX focuses on best-fit colleges, encouraging students to attend schools that will serve them well both academically and socially.