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Expanded Gateway Program Redefines Adult Education to Support College Transition

10/26/2012 12:00 PM

To support adult education students’ successful transition to college-credit courses, City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) has expanded its unique Gateway program to all seven of its colleges for the Fall 2012 semester. All students selected for the program—known as Gateway Scholars—take the new Gateway College Success Semnar as their first college-credit course, and will receive special academic support, career planning advice and tuition assistance as they progress toward their degree goal. The program has grown by 100%, to more than 280 students, since its launch in Fall 2011.

The Gateway program, available to high-level ESL (English as a second language) and GED students with college aspirations, redefines adult education as an “on ramp” to college. It includes:
  • tuition-waived courses
  • mandatory advising sessions with college transition specialists and advisors
  • recognition events
  • a new College Success Seminar course
Gateway supports a key goal of CCC’s ongoing Reinvention initiative: to increase the number and share of adult education students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses.

The College Success seminar, which was successfully piloted at Daley College in summer 2012 with a 100 percent attendance and retention rate, introduces students to valuable college studying habits while also preparing them for college-level reading and writing. To be selected for the Gateway program, a student must have an academic history displaying high attendance and progress, and submit an instructor’s recommendation letter and an essay detailing college goals.

“The College Success seminar taught me a lot. When it started, I didn’t know what to expect in college,” said Elizabeth Marquez, a Gateway scholar who completed the seminar this summer at Daley College. “The class taught us to be prepared, and informed us about City Colleges’ Wellness Center, tutors, and other tools that we can use to succeed. We are more prepared to be in college now.”

A former ESL student who became a U.S. citizen in August, Marquez is the founder and president of the CCC’s first Gateway scholars’ student club. She is now taking college-credit classes at Daley while working part-time at CCC’s District Office, where she is helping to chart the future of the Gateway program as a Fall 2012 Reinvention task force member​.

“As the largest adult education provider in Chicago, City Colleges has a responsibility to aggressively help more students move through college courses to earn a credential to improve their lives and employment prospects,” said Chancellor Cheryl Hyman. “That’s what the Gateway program does: support the college dreams of some of our most promising and ambitious students.”

This fall, more than 280 students are enrolled in Gateway, up from 138 in fall 2011, when the program operated at three city colleges: Daley, Olive-Harvey and Truman. Gateway is based on the successful Truman College Incentive Program, which received the 2010 Innovation Award from the Illinois Council of Community College Administrators.

From fall 2007 to spring 2011, Truman College saw a steady upward trend of students who continued their college studies even after completing the Incentive Program. Program participants’ grades and course completion rates surpassed those of the overall credit population. Incentive students earned A’s in 51 percent of all the credit courses they took in Fall 2008 and Spring 2009, while the Truman credit population overall earned A’s in 29 percent of their courses during the same period.

The College Success seminar is part of Gateway’s Phase 1, during which students simultaneously enroll in adult education and college credit courses. In Phase 2, students make a full transition to college classes with support from mandatory sessions with a college advisor. In Phase 3, students advance toward their degree or certificate. CCC will waive tuition for a maximum of nine college-credit courses for Gateway students. If students do not complete a course for which tuition has been waived, they will have to pay.

Other CCC efforts to increase the number of adult education students moving into college-level courses include CCC’s Bridge programs, which are designed for students interested in CCC training programs tied to high-growth industries including health care and transportation, distribution and logistics (TDL). The Gateway program is aimed at students seeking an associate’s degree.

City Colleges is the largest provider of adult education classes in Chicago, both by number of students and instruction sites. In fiscal year 2011, about 36,000 adult education students enrolled at CCC, out of a total student population of approximately 120,000. More information about Gateway is available at here; information about CCC’s other Adult Education programs is here​​.

Contact Information

Jeremy Gantz, Media Relations Officer


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