Program seeks to re-engage high school dropouts
Some students dropped out because of an illness.
Others, faced with the challenges of teenage motherhood,
missed too many days of school. For whatever reason, they
fell behind and became part of Omaha's 20 percent of high
school students who do not graduate.
MCC is offering high school dropouts ages 16-21 a
second chance at education this fall through the Gateway
to College program. Unlike a GED program, Gateway to
College students earn college credits while working toward
their high school diploma. "We help students transition
from being an unsuccessful high school student to being a
successful, responsible college student," said Kyle
Kinney, a Student Resource Specialist with the program.
"We teach students how to fend for themselves as they
continue their college education."
The program works by providing "intrusive support" for
students. Elements of the program include a first-year
learning community, encouragement of good academic
habits and life skills and individualized academic
support. "Because of our involvement in every aspect of
the students' transition to college, there are fewer cracks
for a student to fall through," Kinney said. "We know what
is going on not only academically but personally as well.
Developing a relationship allows us to provide
accountability and motivate."
Now a national network operating at 27 colleges in 16
states, Gateway to College began at Portland Community
College in 2000. In 2003, the program caught the attention
of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded
the replication of Gateway to College as part of its Early
College High School Initiative. MCC is the first college
in Nebraska to offer the program with Omaha Public Schools
(OPS) as its K-12 partner.
MCC collaborated with OPS and the Sherwood Foundation
to become part of the Gateway to College National Network.
For information on the program, call (402) 457-2746 or
As Student Resource Specialists, Gary Griffin and Kyle Kinney will work
closely with students as advisors, mentors and coaches.
Q & A with Student Resource Specialists
Gateway to College provides "intrusive support" to
help students become successful. Kyle Kinney and Gary
Griffin talk about their role.
Q: What is intrusive support?
Kinney: Intrusive support means being involved in
students' lives—not just academically but personally.
Students can expect us to be "in their business." We
support students as academic advisors, guidance
counselors, life coaches, resource managers, instructors
Q: What makes Gateway to College
Kinney: The level of accountability. Students quickly realize that
Gateway to College is not the easy way out of high school. It requires hard
work, but the payoff is worth it.
Griffin: Our students need to have affirmative educational goals and a
desire to learn. They need to be committed to giving the time and effort
required to be successful in college.
Kinney: In the end they earn their high school diploma and college
credits—and they also learn to be responsible for their own success.
Q: What causes students to drop out?
Kinney: The majority of our applicants dropped out because they fell
so far behind in their education. Oftentimes, an event or situation occurred
which interrupted their high school education. Many applicants have reported
they felt lost in the crowd, nobody cared if they were attending school or
there were just too many distractions.
Q: What are your hopes for Gateway students?
Griffin: My hope is to empower students to make positive, informed
decisions that not only improve the quality of their lives but will also
enhance the lives of their families for generations to follow.