‘Gateway to College National Network’ Helps At-Risk Young Adults Earn Diplomas, College Credit

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College has received a $325,000 four-year contract from Gateway to College National Network to implement Gateway to College, a nationally-recognized dropout prevention and recovery program.

The College is one of 43 institutions in the country selected to participate in the Gateway to College National Network, which is supported in part by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund, and other funders.

Gateway to College is designed for young adults ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school or who are significantly behind in credits and are unlikely to graduate. The program enables qualifying students to complete their high school diploma requirements while simultaneously earning college credit toward an associate degree or certificate.

Montgomery County Community College will initially partner with eight to 10 local school districts during the first year of the Gateway to College Program and will add additional partners as the program progresses. At full capacity, the program will serve up to 150 students per year.

“Our hope is that by placing at-risk high school students into adult learning environments with curriculum that is relevant to their lives and futures, they become more engaged in their education,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, Montgomery County Community College president.

During their first semester, Gateway to College students will be placed into small learning communities, and together they will take classes in reading, writing, math, and college skills. After completing this Foundation term, the students will transition to the comprehensive college programs, where they will be integrated in MCCC’s general student population.

Throughout their enrollment in the program, Gateway to College students will receive one-on-one advising and support from resource specialists who act as coaches, mentors and advisors. The wrap-around support of a resource specialist will help to keep students on the right track for success.

Students graduate from their local school districts once they have completed their high school diploma requirements. Nationally, Gateway to College students accrue an average of 33 college credits by the time they graduate from high school, putting them well on their way to earning a college credential. Survey results show that nearly three-quarters of Gateway students continue in college after completing the program.

The first cohort of Gateway to College students at MCCC will begin in fall 2013.

To learn more about the Gateway to College Network, visit www.gatewaytocollege.org.

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