Gateway to College is a dual enrollment program at Holyoke Community College where high school students who have dropped out (or are at risk of dropping out) take college classes for credit in both high school and college; they graduate from their sending districts. HCC's Gateway is in its fourth year, and is part of a national network that includes 35 programs in 20 states. We have graduated 60 students from eight different local districts, and anticipate another 30+ graduates by the end of summer 2012. On average, Gateway students complete high school with 24 college credits. Most Gateway graduates continue in college. We had unprecedented success with Springfield students this year. Of the 29 students enrolled with Gateway in September 2011, 26 are on track to graduate by August.
Our students range from 16-21. Most had a high school GPA below 2.0. Some had left school entirely, while others were behind their cohort and unlikely to complete. Students complete an in-depth application process with Gateway, including essays, testing, and a personal interview. The three most critical pieces of the application process are the ability to read at the 8th grade level, the genuine desire to finish high school, and a commitment to the change necessary to be successful college students.
Gateway is rigorous. Students take a fulltime college course load, with classes that match their high school requirements, MCAS needs, and career interests. Many also take classes using PLATO (credit recovery). They attend classes in four terms: fall, intersession (January), spring and summer. They need to meet the same standards as students on federal financial aid: successful completion of 67% of attempted courses, with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Gateway students are college students, with a flexible college schedule. Gateway applicants need to have the maturity to handle this flexibility, as well as the rights and responsibilities of college life. Attendance is a key component of college success, as students are withdrawn from classes after just three absences.
Gateway is an amazing opportunity, but it requires tremendous effort and commitment. Gateway asks each student to move beyond their high school identities and begin a new chapter in their lives. Gateway students are college students who transform into scholars and leaders who fully expect to make a difference in their communities.
Interested students MUST attend an information session to start the application process. Upcoming sessions are listed at left.
Gateway to College is funded in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.