Texas Nonprofit guides students through a successful education – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


The founder of a Dallas nonprofit that aims to help students succeed in post-secondary education says there are significant ‘flaws and loopholes’ in the education system that lead to failures in education Graduation Across Texas.

“Our mission is to lift children out of generational poverty with a career-ready degree and sadly our state and country is doing a terrible job moving kids from high school to at least a living wage, and especially for low-income first-generation children,” said Dan Hooper, founder of ScholarShot and author of Polar U.

He started the non-profit organization in 2009 after seeing the need to help mentor students through the college process. It’s already a difficult transition, especially for those who are the first in their families to pursue post-secondary education and who may come from low-income households.

Hooper also takes data from the state to press issues that he believes impact the state as a whole. He referred to the state 60 by 30 planwhich was created to solve the problem of the lack of students completing higher levels of education to earn a certificate or degree, which ultimately helps the Texas workforce and economy.

“It’s going to hurt some people’s feelings, but high school counseling is very, very flawed, statewide. Fifty-four percent of our high school students who graduate don’t do anything to get a post-secondary credential, which is a trades certificate, and God knows we need that, a credential. associate or undergraduate degree,” Hooper explained.

He said that of those who try, less than 26% succeed. He said nine out of 10 first-generation low-income students attending college in Texas drop out.

“But the flip side is that our universities are way too willing to take a student’s scholarships and loans, but not commit to seeing them succeed,” Hooper said.

“We’ve heard it from a number of universities across the state when we had to challenge them and they said, ‘Well, look, we’re not responsible for the financial or academic status of our students. And, you know, think about that and ask what restaurant or what airline would be operating in a week, if they were like, “Hey, we’re only going to take half of you there, or we can’t guarantee how you ‘feel after this meal.’ Somehow we’ve lost accountability for our public education system, call it K-16,” said Hooper, who hopes his book will help shed some light on the matter.

The ScholarShot program attempts to bridge the gap and turn dropouts into graduates through financial support, planning, budgeting, and guidance on how to navigate through college and land that first job.

“The system is designed to make the system look good, but unfortunately at the risk of our children, and that’s what ScholarShot is focusing on trying to help some 100 children who are in our system,” Hooper said.

The organization, which is made up of eight employees, has four active academic managers who are assigned approximately 50 students each to help them navigate their graduate-level education.

“It’s been very helpful to me, just the academic advising part, having someone to explain what’s going on at the university and let me know, everything’s under control, you’re on the right track, just go to our classes, do your best, I really appreciated that aspect for me,” said Ifeoluwa Kehinde, who is an academic manager at ScholarShot and participated in the program herself.

Kehinde, 22, was born and raised in Nigeria and came to Texas as a teenager and graduated from Grand Prairie High School.

“In my mind, I thought, ‘I don’t know anything about the college system here. I have no idea how to do it, “being the first to go to school here,” Kehinde said. . who applied to the program after hearing about it from a high school recruiter.

She credits ScholarShot for helping her graduate from the University of Texas last May, where she earned a degree in human development and family science. She now mentors others who wear the shoes she used to wear.

“Just managing a subset of students and advising them to make sure they feel good, mentally, socially and academically throughout their college career,” she said. “I think there’s this misconception when you graduate from high school. You’re 18, they call you ‘adult’ and they send you on your way, but that’s another time of transition and I think a lot of students don’t have that person to help and guide them as they transition through this next stage of their lives.

Part of that advice is learning how to minimize student debt, which remains a problem for millions of Americans who continue to pay it down.

“Debt is such a diabolical trap. It takes less than three seconds for an 18-year-old to sign a $7,000 or $10,000 debt on an online portal and not know ‘what the payment will be?’ already have a debt? Is that enough to cover the year?” said Hooper, who encourages parents and students to be careful when finding ways to pay for their education.

He said this is a subject they focus heavily on at ScholarShot which Hooper says has a 90% success rate in getting students to complete their certification or degree.

“As a parent and a student, be very, very tired of debt and mindful of avoiding it,” Hooper said.

The non-profit organization said its students have less than a third of student debt compared to their peers.

“If you’re a typical low-income, first-generation kid, you’re going to graduate, if you’re graduating from a four-year-old school in Texas with $45,000 in debt, and that means your credit is unworthy, the first day you go to work, and you’re a subject and a target for subprime lending practices. You’ll have to post three or four months’ bond on your first apartment. It’s just a trap and there’s so many more to say on that, but I can tell you that if the parents recognize that for a one or two year diploma or certificate, there is no debt required even if the school will offer it. should be able to graduate and graduate with less than $15,000 in total debt,” Hooper said.

He said ScholarShot’s average is $1,500 for its graduates.

Hooper said their financial support for students in a two-year program can reach up to $3,000 per year and students in a four-year public school in Texas can get up to $6,000 per year. .

Learn more about the program and apply Click here. Hooper said they will begin accepting high school applications in October.

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