Innovative program enables students to earn missing high school credits through college classes

March 15, 2021

By Farhad Golriz, Staff Writer

Laney College’s Gateway to College (GTC) program provides a bridge to higher education, reaching out to teens who have struggled academically.

GTC at Laney is holding a series of workshops to prepare high school students who are interested in joining the program with the correct information and preparation needed. The next info sessions being held are April 7, April 21, May 5, May 19 and June 2. 

This program allows students to gain high school credit from college courses. On Wednesday, March 10, GTC held an info session to provide students interested in joining the ongoing program all the necessary information. Due to the current COVID Pandemic this program is currently being held remotely via Zoom. 

March 9 promotional post from the Gateway to College (GTC) program at Laney College detailing the eligibility requirements. Image via Peralta Community College District’s twitter @PeraltaColleges.

The GTC team is run by Director William Ramos Ochoa. Success coaches on the team include Michael Cruz, Terry Watson and Omar Esteban Ramos. The front desk manager is run by Senait Yehualashet. The team also includes Mayra Murillo, a counselor and graduate liaison.

The GTC program is free to all qualified students. Cruz shared that this program is “really big on community enrichment and equity-based learning.”

Services available to students in the program include a college preparedness course which provides a path to support students over the transition from high school to college. The program accelerates undergraduate education and allows students to meet the requirements for an Associate Arts, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees and additional certificates. Students also have access to tutoring and counseling as a part of the program. 

Those who are eligible for this program must be 16 to 20 years old, and all participants must reside in Alameda County. In order to qualify the participant must either be low on credits or have dropped out of high school before earning a high school diploma. 

Cruz presented a sample schedule for foundation semester. A student may have this type of schedule depending on their education plan and if they are missing any credits.

Example of what a student’s first semester in the Gateway to College (GTC) program could look like. Slide from March 10 presentation led by GTC staff.

Once a student has a schedule set they must attend their class and at the end of the day can receive additional support for those classes, also known as “Leadership Time.” 

 This time (Monday – Friday 12:30 -2 PM) is focused on community-based learning and gives students the opportunity to learn from other students, work on assignments and get any support needed from coaches or tutors. 

During the current remote learning model, students who do not have a computer or internet can get technology support through the program. Students can pick up materials or texts needed for their class from the college. Zoom and Canvas support are also offered. Online tutoring, which consists of a writing center, math lab and specialized tutors, is also available.

 “We definitely want students to feel adequately supported, you know, in this kind of remote learning environment,” said Michael Cruz at the info session. “We know that it’s not necessarily easy.”

All students in the program are required to participate in one virtual meeting with a success coach per week. The main priority of these meetings is to ensure that both the coach and the students are on the same page. These meetings are “in depth one-on-one” sessions during which a student can bring up any questions or even complete class work or an outside project. One of the success coaches described the value of these meetings as an opportunity to “check up to see how the student is doing in class, in their personal life, or just kind of check in and, you know, talk about random stuff like anime, or manga, or whatever the kids like these days.”

Prospective Gateway to College (GTC) students must go through these seven steps. Slide from March 10 presentation led by GTC staff.

Every Friday morning there is a required academic success session, where all program participants gather and leaders of the program make announcements. Guest speakers from different career paths come to share what profession they pursued with the students. Workshops around different skills and career options are also held. 

Project Gateway also invests in student-led projects that are optional. The student must first present an idea and make an achievable plan. The student then teams up with a mentor based on the student’s interest. Through Project Gateway, students are given funding to support them in achieving their ideas and passions. “We allow the students to apply or build a plan or proposal and they get actual money to make this happen. So it’s not just a theoretical thing, we’re putting real hard cash into the students and kind of their hobbies, interests, passions that they want to do.”

The requirement in this program is to keep a minimum 2.0 GPA or above. As a scholarship program, Cruz shared “it’s very, very important that students come in and maintain a minimum of a 2.0 GPA. So that would mean kind of like a C average or above.”  His recommendation to GTC students include: advocate for yourself, be on time and ready to learn, attend all required tutoring and homework time and follow all rules of etiquette.

The enrollment process consists of seven steps. The first step is that the student fills out an interest form. Once completed they must attend an info session. They must then fill out an application and get a copy of their high school transcript. Finally the student will then go through an interview. The student will then be able to register for classes and attend commitment week. Due to COVID 19, this process will be fully online.

 

Schedule of Gateway to College (GTC) at Laney information sessions, held over Zoom. Image via Peralta Community College District’s twitter @PeraltaColleges.

For further information please visit Fall 2021 – Information Sessions – Gateway to College Gateway to College. Additional information is available by calling (510) 766-0092 or emailing [email protected]