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. This is not a high school equivalency program: students who complete the Gateway program earn a high school degree from their school district—and graduate with earned college credit.
Part of a national network that includes 43 programs in 22 states, HCC's Gateway program is in its sixth year, and has earned national recognition for its extraordinary success. More than 140 students from eight different local school districts have graduated from Gateway to date. Before entering Gateway, most had a high school GPA below 2.0. Some had left school entirely, while others were behind their cohort and unlikely to complete. In addition to finishing high school through the Gateway program, these students accumulated approximately 24 college credits. Most Gateway graduates continue in college.
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 five terms: fall, intersession (January), spring, Maymester (May), 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 Attendance is a key component of college success, as students are withdrawn from classes after just three absences.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.
Gateway is open to students ages 16-20 years of age. Interested students MUST attend an information session to start the application process. Upcoming sessions are listed at left. Students must come from school districts with a contract with Gateway to College.