When Navarro College and Tarleton State University cemented their bond as a Multi-Institutional Teaching Center (MITC) in Midlothian, Texas, in April 2012, the partner schools were excited about the prospects to come.
Today, just a little more than six months later, it's clear that students are excited too.
In fact, university partner Tarleton is already celebrating impressive enrollment numbers.
Perhaps this news is not surprising as the MITC, or Midlothian Higher Education Center (MHEC) as it's been formally named, means that bachelor's and graduate degrees are now available to a wide range of students in Ellis County and beyond who want to pursue higher education goals.
"The MHEC provides an affordable state institution that gives people in the local area an opportunity to access higher education without having to travel or commute long distances," said Dr. David Deviney, director and professor of management at Tarleton State University in Midlothian.
Deviney said that Tarleton was officially up and running on the Midlothian Campus in fall of 2011 with just two students. By spring of 2012, the number of Tarleton students increased to 39, and by fall 2012, student enrollment grew to 117.
"These numbers are exciting because our original targeted goal had been 100 students by the fall of 2013, and we are already well beyond that," said Deviney.
Looking ahead, Deviney said Tarleton is anticipating upwards of 140 to 150 students by spring 2013.
Tarleton, like Navarro, is seeking to draw students from the Midlothian community but also from cities as far north as Duncanville, Mansfield to the west, Ennis, Lancaster and DeSoto to the east, and Alvarado and Cleburne to the south.
A Boost in Educational Infrastructure
Tarleton's enrollment numbers thus far seem to support what local city and education leaders have championed all along: that Midlothian and surrounding communities would benefit from this significant boost in educational infrastructure.
Most importantly, school officials say the demand is clear and present.
Deviney said that ideally, students would attend Navarro College to obtain an associate degree, then advance on to higher degrees through Tarleton.
Currently on the Midlothian campus, Tarleton offers bachelor's degrees in Business Administration, Interdisciplinary Business, Psychology, Criminal Justice Administration, and Manufacturing and Industrial Management. Students can also earn master's degrees in Counseling and Counseling Psychology.
Deviney expects that, in time, more degrees will be offered.
Sparking a Future for Midlothian Students
For many people who want to further their education, the MHEC offers a viable option with classes that are conducive to those with full- or part-time jobs. Deviney notes that students range in age from roughly 20 to 40 years old, and many have military experience or are working adults.
"The line between traditional and non-traditional students is becoming more gray," said Deviney. "Most of our students work, even though they may be in school full-time."
Whether students are traditional or non-traditional, one thing is certain: the future for eager minds in Midlothian and neighboring cities is shining brighter by the day.
To learn more about the Midlothian Higher Education Center (MHEC), visit MidlothianDegrees.com.