Our current research project, Understanding Academic Success, included more than 60 interviews and 20 shadow days with the most successful students in Gateway to College programs[i]. Our goal was to understand what experiences help these students earn their high school diplomas through Gateway to College. Data collection wrapped up in June, and our research team is beginning its analysis. While results will not be available until next year, we have come across several statements that highlight the power of relationships. Gateway to College Resource Specialists, Instructors, and Staff are often cited by our students as being critical to their success.
As the Fall term begins, program staff spend a good deal of their time tracking down students who miss class, assisting students with transportation needs, and just listening when an ear is needed. We wanted to take the opportunity to share what Gateway to College students say about these moments, and how much they contribute to their success in completing high school. To all of our Gateway to College program staff: thank you for making a profound difference in so many lives!
- I feel like the support that I got right away when I went in there [to the Gateway Orientation] to discuss signing up and what you have to do it. It was like, “Oh my gosh, that would be amazing we’d love to have you, this is what you need to do that”; like welcoming, let us fix what’s going on. That is what made me feel like yes, someone is actually going to help.
- Every single student had attention. And that’s one of the main things about Gateway—is that every student, no matter if they are A average, B average, C average, they all get attention and that was really good for me. That helped me out a lot.
- The counselors seek you out. They come talk to you, and they make you stay involved with the program and also they kind of assist you in helping you figure out what you want to do or if you have any problems.
- My high school experience wasn’t very good. Gateway is, well, the exact opposite. It’s supportive and it challenges [you].
- I really learned to like my education.
- I don’t think there’s anything negative about Gateway to College. It took a failing student to a straight A student, you know.
- And my government teacher, she’s tough. She doesn’t take any bologna, but if you respect her, she’ll respect you too…Some people don’t realize it now, but she’s actually helping us think about ourselves instead of just writing stuff down.
- I love the faculty because they’re all so loving and they care about you.
- I ended up taking a year off so that I could have my son and focus on that …. So in between that time my advisor was keeping in contact with me. If she wouldn’t have, who knows?
- [Gateway to College is] very life-changing. It changes your whole thought about learning and about going to college, because I never thought I would go to college.
- My biggest achievement I think… I think it’s more of a personal thing because right now I feel like I’m able to think critically a lot more than I used to.
- They are just more on top of you. They give you a lot of time to do the work, but if they see you not doing anything, because I do sometimes do that. I try to get good grades, but they will talk to me about it. Or if I am disrupting the class, if I am talking, because I talk a lot...so that’s pretty good…and the counselors are all pretty cool.
- What I like is, like I don’t know just the size. The one-on-ones. The relationships that you grow while being there.
- They [Gateway Staff] make you feel like it’s a family.
- All the teachers will let you know that they’re there for you. They won’t let you fail.
- I really like how supportive everybody is and I like how realistic they are about it. In that first quarter they didn’t like fluff anything. They were like this is going to be hard, this is going to be challenging, and you are going to have to put your effort forward and put your best in and I really like how they were honest and they were supportive of you.
- They won’t give up on you. No matter if you give up on yourself. No matter how hard you try to give up. They will stay pushing you.
- [At] high school I believe they sort of give more attention to the students that are doing better. That’s why they call them teacher’s pets. So things like that. With Gateway everybody will eventually be a teacher’s pet. Eventually. I guarantee it.
This research is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York.
[i] Students were eligible for the study if they had a 3.0 college GPA as of January 2015, and had been in Gateway to College for at least two terms. Interviews were conducted by phone or video chat. Shadows were done in person.