Houston Colleges and Trade Schools Vital to Future Job Seekers

by Minnie Payne

Whether you’re considering college or trade school, Houston offers more than 500 degree and certification programs at 100-plus colleges, community colleges, technical and trade schools. And even though Houston is known for its energy industry (particularly oil), healthcare, biomedical research, and aerospace, anyone who lives here knows that Houston is diverse.  There’s a school for whatever profession you choose. 

With 2.2 million residents, Houston is the fourth most populous city in the nation, trailing only New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and is the largest in the southern U.S. and Texas Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA) covers 8,778 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Massachusetts but larger than New Jersey. 
More than 145 different languages are spoken in Houston, and just under 30 percent of the population over age 25 holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.  The average annual salary is $65,000, and local schools are preparing students to join these groups.

The University of Houston – Downtown, 1 Main Street, Houston 77002, www.uhd.edu, a publicly-supported, urban university in Houston’s central business district, is considered to be an ethnically diverse liberal arts school, distinguishing its student body to reflect Houston’s wealth of cultures, languages, and nationalities. It offers students an opportunity for quality higher education, small classes, and personal interest from faculty, with baccalaureate degrees in more than 50 areas and seven master’s degree programs.  Among notable alumni are Lorenzo Thomas - poet/faculty member, Juan Diaz - boxer, Mario Gallegos, Jr. - Texas State Senator, Charles McClelland - Chief of Houston Police Department, and Diana Lopez - American taekwondo practitioner (2008 Olympic bronze medalist). Tuition for the University of Houston for an in-state resident student is $8,600 per year versus $6,026 per year for an in-state resident student at the University of Houston – Downtown.

Provost Edward Hugetz has been with the university 3 1/2 years and has served as provost during that time. He says that it looks as if UHD’s headcount for the fall semester will be about 14,400, up about 1.5 percent from last fall. Graduate students may be up to about 1,400 students. Differences in ethnic back-grounds is an important aspect of the university. “We are very much meeting the population of the city, in that we have 44 percent Hispanic students, 25 percent African American students, 18 percent Anglo students, and 10 percent Asian students, Provost Hugetz informs. “To be honest, it’s most exciting that UHD is truly a university of opportunity, allowing students to earn degrees that prepare them for professional careers.” 
Provost Hugetz’ highest priority is to increase student success.

“I think as you look at our strategic plan, our  No. 1 goal is student success,” he shares. “We are receiving students whose backgrounds are such that Federal and State Governments recognize that they are at risk.  There are families who cannot help their children get an education.  These students come from backgrounds where assistance is not there, and it’s important for them to get assistance from government profit.  Most of the students work, and it’s important that they focus on academics that will give them a career worth having.  We need to support them academically, but also through advisors who can assist.  It will be a challenge.”
The thing that Provost Hugetz enjoys most about his job is the commencement ceremony held at Minute Maid Park where over 1,000 graduates join 15,000 to 20,000 families and friends who come to celebrate their successes. “It’s meaningful to see how much the students earning degrees mean to the community as a whole,” he says.  When UHD graduates are asked what contributed to their success, he often hears “It’s because faculty encouraged me to succeed.” 
Provost Hugetz concurs that it’s a major factor.

For students not wanting to attend a four-year institution, there are a host of Houston trade schools offering an opportunity to enter almost any field.  The Art Institute of Houston, 4140 Southwest Frwy., Houston 77027, www.artinstitutes.edu, focuses on design, media arts, fashion, and culinary, of which many facets fall under these categories.  Their school system of over 50 schools across North America provides hands-on education in creative and applied arts, offering master’s, bachelor’s, and associate’s degree programs as well as non-degree programs.  Employers readily provide important sources of professionals in the school’s respective fields. 

Houston Community College (HCC), www.hcc.edu, offers 21 locations, plus online courses, with Saturday courses being held at the West Loop Campus. In 1989, HCC was separated from HISD and established its own Board of Trustees; in 1992, the school restructured into a multi-college system. HCC is an open-admission, public institution of higher education, offering  high-quality, affordable education for academic advancement, workforce training, career development, and lifelong learning to prepare individuals in diverse communities for life and work in a global and technological society.  It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the associate degree.