One year after launching the ACC Career Scholars program, data show near-perfect persistence rates among participating students.

The all-inclusive scholarship program provides financial support for tuition and fees — up to $5,000 over three years — along with personalized student support services to guide students from enrollment through completion with a workforce certificate or degree and into a promising, high-demand career.

“The struggle to pay for college and support yourself along the way can keep many from pursuing their dreams, especially those among our already underserved communities. Career Scholars takes a huge step forward to eliminate these roadblocks and opens the door for better equity and inclusion at ACC,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor. “I am incredibly proud of everyone at the college who has made this first year possible. By lifting that weight, we are helping students jumpstart straight to a promising career. ”

The ACC Career Scholars program piloted in fall 2020 with two inaugural cohorts — one for eligible graduating high school seniors and the other for adult learners. 

Just released data indicate students from both cohorts surpassed persistence expectations and far exceeded the college’s average.

  • Adult Career Scholars Persistence: 97 percent (fall-to-spring)
  • Direct-to-College Scholars Persistence: 94 percent (fall-to-spring)

In comparison, the average persistence rate among full-time in college (FTIC) students at ACC is 77 percent (fall-to-spring). Disaggregated, the data also show little variation in persistence across races and ethnicities.

Race/EthnicityEnrolled Fall 2020Enrolled Spring 2021Fall-Spring Persistence% Persistence Fall-Spring
Other 999100%
*Unable to publish specific enrollment figures due to FERPA reporting criteria.

Adult Career Scholars

ACC’s Adult Career Scholars program supported 160 students in 2020-21 and surpassed diversity goals for enrollment. Students were selected and awarded based on economic standing and academic performance. 

“Everybody has their own path and goals. The main reason why I didn’t go to college right after high school was that I was the primary caretaker for my family. After 10 years in the workforce, I needed a career change. I wanted something better,” says Melanie Castro, Adult Career Scholar. “Coming back to school was always my goal, it was just financial barriers that stopped me from coming back sooner. Career Scholars took that away and made it possible for me to chase my dream.”

All students enrolled in a workforce degree or certificate program in a high-demand industry in Central Texas with strong salary and hiring potential, including:

  • Accounting/Bookkeeping
  • Computer Sciences
  • Health Care 
  • Manufacturing
  • Applied Tech/Skilled Trades

Direct-to-College Career Scholars

The college’s Direct-to-College Career Scholars program supported 109 graduating high school seniors. Students in the inaugural cohort were selected from 11 Early College High schools within the district and awarded based on economic standing and academic persistence. Beginning fall 2021, the program will open to all area ISDs.

“Leaving high school everything was a little hazy because of the pandemic. I was really worried about college because I didn’t know what to do,” says Kyara Colon, Direct-to-College Career Scholar. “I think the Career Scholars program is amazing. It is like having a pillow to land on. Every single day someone with the program sends me an email with another resource or something I can do to keep moving forward —  and all of those resources are very helpful.”

The program is open to students interested in other major Central Texas industries including: 

  • Business
  • Computer Sciences
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Health Care
  • Manufacturing
  • Applied Tech/Skilled Trades

Complete Academic Support

All Career Scholars are assigned a personal mentor who can help them navigate the college experience. They get access to ACC’s complete suite of support services customized to provide them hands-on support from faculty, academic advisors, and career services professionals. Services include:

  • Enrollment assistance
  • Scholarship and financial aid application assistance
  • Advising and counseling
  • Free tutoring and academic support
  • Job search and resume guidance
  • Help navigating finances
  • Low-cost child care 

Next Steps

The Career Scholars application for fall 2021 is now open. The application deadline is July 1, 2021. The college expects to double enrollment in the program, but aims to do more in the future. Currently, enrollment in the program is capped by available funding. 

“Adult Career Scholars is a powerful equity tool for both the college and our community, and it has the potential to grow and serve at least 2,000 students per year,” says Oddett Garza-Weatherspoon, Adult Career Scholars manager. “Our greatest challenge is the need for more funding for scholarships. As with our first cohort, we anticipate turning away far more students than we accept into the program.”

For more information and to view eligibility requirements for both tracks, visit