Collin College has bounced back from a slight dip in enrollment in 2020 thanks to a strategic expansion that created new opportunities for prospective students.
When Collin College entered the new term this fall, it saw a nearly 8% increase in its student body compared to the year prior, swelling from 35,085 to 37,891 students.
While the significant population growth logged by Collin County has undoubtedly contributed to the rise, with population growth holding steady at just over 3% each year, the college’s expansion in student offerings has reportedly been the main driver.
This has been particularly true of the college’s dual degree partnerships with North Texas school districts, which allow high school students to earn college credit alongside their high school studies. While only 7,915 students were enrolled in the dual degree program in 2018, this figure jumped to 10,609 in 2023. Such students constitute 28% of the college’s credit enrollment, marking a significant growth area.
Frisco ISD partners with Collin College in the dual degree initiative. Academic counselors even come to schools in order to help students enroll and fit the courses into their schedules.
“It takes all of us collaborating to make it happen for students, and we are excited to see a continued growth in the program,” explained Tiffany Carey, director of innovative learning at Frisco ISD, according to Community Impact.
Prosper ISD also partners with Collin College and saw a 140% increase in its student participation in dual degree programs since the 2019-2020 term, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Meanwhile, Plano ISD is set to begin partnering with the institution in the fall of 2024.
Such initiatives giving high schoolers the chance to earn college credit alongside their degrees are welcome amid recent reports indicating many are not ready for higher education.
ACT college admissions test administrators announced the lowest average composite scores seen since 1991, as recently covered by The Dallas Express. Out of the over 1.4 million test takers this year, only 20.8% met benchmarks for success in college-level classes in all subjects, while 43.3% met none of the benchmarks.
Additionally, Dallas ISD — the second-biggest school system in Texas — logged poor college, career, and military readiness scores during the 2021-2022 school year. Dallas ISD scored 59% in the metric, below the statewide average of 65%. It also clocked an on-time graduation rate of only 81.1% that school year, according to its Texas Education Agency accountability report.
Collin College has opened three new campuses since 2021, one each in Celina and Wylie and a technical campus in Allen. The latter has introduced new programs that are in high demand regionally.
“The technical programs like welding, automotive, construction management, and things of that nature — our region was hungry for those programs. All of those programs have grown by leaps and bounds since we started,” said Abe Johnson, Collin College’s senior vice president of campus operations, according to Community Impact.
The college partnered with Toyota this spring for its hands-on automotive technician program, offering a direct pathway for students to work at Toyota and Lexus dealerships and help dampen local labor shortages, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
As Johnson further explained, the new campuses have served to expand the college’s geographical scope, drawing in students who are less likely to attend if their commute runs over 20 minutes.
Collin College isn’t done growing, though. After optimizing its current campuses, it plans to continue expanding in Anna. Meanwhile, a fifth baccalaureate program is also in the works, which will offer degrees in clinical operations management, construction management, cybersecurity, and nursing — all at a relatively low cost compared to four-year institutions.
“Four-year universities are not for everybody,” said Raul Martinez, Collin College’s associate vice president of primary-through-12th-grade partnerships, according to Community Impact. “Some people just need a little bit of training to get them into a high-wage, high-demand job.”