Free Online Courses Extend to All of West Texas

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

It's one college teaching all of West Texas. This fall, U.T. Permian Basin is kicking off a program offering free online classes to high school students from as far away as Presidio. The program promises to not only save money but it's also a way for more people to get a College Degree.

Forget the classrooms and put away the textbooks. Dual credit enrollment  - allowing high school students to earn college credit in high school is gaining momentum at UTPB. And this year they're taking it one step further.

"There is opportunity out there to go to College and we want to provide that opportunity," Mary Martinez with the UTPB Continuing Education Program, said.

They're offering free online classes in core subjects, electives, and fine arts to every district in the Basin.

"We want for them to be successful," Rey Lascano with UTPB Outreach and Continuing Education, said. "We want our economic area to flourish in many ways. We have a responsibility also to the region."

Since the program opened up two days ago, they already have more than 100 students on the roster mostly from small West Texas cities with no community college. In fact, 30 of the new UTPB students are from Presidio.

"It's been amazing," Martinez said. "They are so excited to have this opportunity because this is our first year to do the free online courses. It's new to us and new to them, so it's an exciting venture."

The idea for free online college classes came from the University President who took a small amount of cash from several budgets to pay for the courses. Each one runs over $400 per student.

"The response has been phenomenal," Martinez said. "We have had so many students wanting to sign up."

And ECISD officials tell NewsWest 9, the program is going to generate big interest in continuing education.

"Regardless of what their income might be or their parent's income might be, UTPB has stepped up and they have offered great opportunities for our students to have a college experience regardless of who they are and how much money they make," Dr. Steve Brown with the Ector County Independent School District, said.

If you're interested in learning more, click here.