Texans Aren’t Reaching State Higher Education Goals, But Associate’s Degrees And Certificates Could Help

A recent Rice University report shows even before the pandemic, the state was on track to fall short of its 2030 goal that 60% of Texans between ages 25 and 34 complete a postsecondary education.

By Jill AmentJuly 27, 2020 3:32 pm

The Texas Higher Education Board had a 15-year plan to make post-secondary more common among Texans. But like so many others during the COVID-19 pandemic, that plan has been derailed.

Now, a recent report from Rice University’s Houston Education Research Consortium indicates that Texas is not on track to meet the state’s 2030 goal that 60% of Texans between ages 25 and 34 complete a postsecondary education.

Postsecondary education is schooling after high school.

“Our projections in the report estimate that around 46% probably have a postsecondary credential of some sort that ranges from a certificate to a doctoral degree,” Brian Holzman of the consortium told Texas Standard’s Joy Díaz.

Holzman was a lead researcher for the report.

He said the pandemic is only going to make reaching the 2030 goal even harder.

“It means that we have to really focus more, and identify ways to support, students in helping them take college prep courses and deal with any other health or economic challenges that are going on in their personal lives,” Holzman said.

According to his research, it’s important to get high school students in college prep and other advanced courses.

“We have found that the more of these courses that students take, the more likely they will earn a two- or four-year degree,” Holzman said.

And students don’t need years and years of postsecondary schooling to have a chance at a job after graduation. Holzman said the jobs that tend to be available now require an associate’s degree or other certificate.

“They typically require only about one to two years in postsecondary education,” Holzman said. “A lot of these jobs that have been growing in the Houston metro, they’re managerial positions, but they’re low- to midlevel managerial positions.”

Staying in school even a little bit longer after high school could be a way to weather the current economic recession, he said, and give students an opportunity to get more education and focus on fields that are in demand.

Web story by Sarah Gabrielli.

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