By Sarah Snyder
It had never been accomplished in West Texas before.
For the first time, every 2008 graduating Midland student received an acceptance letter to Midland College or another university.
School leaders say, it's all thanks to a successful partnership and a new program.
The program is called "College Connection," and it allowed each of the 1200 students in Midland I.S.D. who graduated last year to not only walk away with a diploma, but an opportunity for higher education.
District and college officials tell NewsWest 9, it's making a big difference.
"It's huge. It's huge," Ron Moss with Midland I.S.D., said. "It's a great collaborative effort between Midland I.S.D. and Midland College."
This school year is the second round of the College Connection Program.
"The idea behind the initiative is to help students with the process of getting into college," Moss said.
M.I.S.D. helped each senior with applications and waded through the financial aid forms.
"It's huge because I believe we have removed some of the barriers from applying and even thinking that they could go to college before simply because they didn't know how to walk through the process," Moss said.
This program, begun by Superintendent Sylvester Perez, allowed every senior that graduated from Coleman, Midland Lee, or Midland High last year to receive an acceptance letter to Midland College or another university.
"Definitely for us, enrollment has been up," Ryan Gibbs, Admissions and Recruitment Director for Midland College, said. "We expect it to be up this year as compared to last fall."
Midland College works with students helping them learn about financial aid, applying to college, and scholarship opportunities.
"We expect that trend to continue," Gibbs said. "We're trying to branch out to who aren't going to college, or like I said, they don't think that College is an option for them, and we're trying to let them know that College is an option for them. And if it's Midland College, that's great, but we just want them to go somewhere."
And school leaders say, it's developing a better community.
"It can only be good for Midland and West Texas," Moss said.
"There's more jobs out there than there are people to fill them, and that's what we're here to do - try to get them educated and get them ready to fill those positions," Gibbs said.
"As we continue doing the initiative, it's going to become more obvious to students that the help is there that they need," Moss said.
And this program isn't just for high school students, all M.I.S.D. teachers wear their college shirts one day each month, and even give college trivia to students of all ages.