UNT Dallas Grants Free Admission to DHS Seniors

University of North Texas at Dallas Announces Automatic Admission to Every Class of 2023 Graduating Senior at DeSoto High School
Posted on 02/09/2023
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A partnership between the University of North Texas at Dallas and DeSoto Independent School District will award the entire senior class at DeSoto High School with automatic admission into the university.

Students in the DHS 2023 graduating class were informed of the announcement facilitated by UNT Dallas’  Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions Luis Franco in partnership with representatives from the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees, DeSoto ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Usamah Rodgers and DeSoto High School Principal Jasen Campbell during a special called class meeting during school on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2023, at the campus’ Fred Nickels Auditorium.

“Life is about options and choices,” said DeSoto ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Usamah Rodgers regarding the opportunity as she addressed students.

Rodgers went on to say, “Dallas County is a tale of two cities having some of the highest economic wealth in the United States and some of the highest poverty.”

Rodgers explained that most family-sustaining jobs require a post-secondary degree or credential and that most people who reside in Dallas County who are between 25-34 don’t have a postsecondary degree or credential meaning they don’t have access to employment opportunities that are family-sustaining. 

“Today’s announcement ensures that 100 percent of you have a fighting chance at making a family-sustaining wage so that you can access what it is you want to have in life--choices and options.”

UNT Dallas has in recent years ranked as one of the top universities for lowest student debt held by graduates--a barrier to economic progress and mobility for many young adults.

During the presentation, UNT Dallas representatives celebrated the school’s ability to “excel at serving first-generation college students and propelling graduates towards economic mobility.” The university also pointed out that 98 percent of Hispanic students graduate with “no or manageable debt” compared to 92 percent as based on the state average and that 90 percent of African-American students graduate with “no or manageable debt” compared to the state average of 79 percent.

The university extended the opportunity to DHS seniors under the Trailblazer Express program which is a partnership between the university and selected high schools. It is designed to provide a seamless pathway to a bachelor’s degree while removing barriers to college access and the college application process.

In 2020, the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees approved a set of  Board Goals which focuses on four key areas of student achievement:
College, Career, and Military Readiness (CMMR)
Early Literacy
Early Numeracy
Individualized Growth

Under the district’s goals for CCMR, which have evolved since its 2020 development, the Board aspires for the district to increase the percentage of high school students who graduate college, career and military-ready from 36 percent (May 2019) to 62 percent by May 2025. Under this goal, DeSoto ISD utilizes the following goal progress measures to assess growth in this area:
the percentage of juniors and seniors who receive a college-ready score in both reading and math on college entrance exams
the percentage of high school students who earn college credit by successfully completing such coursework
the percentage of students earning industry-based certifications by graduation

“The Board of Trustees set college, career, and military-readiness goals that measure our students’ college-readiness and DeSoto ISD has great programs in place to support that progress,” said Rodgers. “Our goal is to ensure that every student who graduates from DeSoto ISD has a plan for life that helps them create opportunities for their families so that they can break barriers and cycles and pursue the American dream.”

DeSoto ISD Board President Dr. DeAndrea Fleming encouraged students to lean into the opportunity presented by UNT Dallas “to change the trajectory of their lives.”

“This is a breakthrough,” said Fleming. “Use this moment to take a step forward and change your life for the better by taking a chance on yourself.”

Under the UNT Dallas Trailblazer Express partnership, DHS Seniors are assigned an admissions counselor who is positioned to support students’ engagement in the opportunity from start to finish.

As part of the presentation, students were invited to attend the university’s April 1 Trailblazer 360 showcase and open house, an opportunity for prospective students and their families to tour the campus, learn about programs and activities including study abroad opportunities and participate in giveaways including scholarships.

DeSoto High School students will receive a physical and electronic letter regarding the admissions opportunity and process from UNT Dallas in the near future.

DeSoto ISD continues to work closely with area industry and collegiate partners to create, enhance and expand learning and curricular offerings for district students--an extension of the district’s Triple-A Experience, a holistic and well-rounded educational approach rooted in Academics, Arts and Athletics.