SRU’s Gateway graduates get “second chance” to succeed
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A "second chance" enrollment program has paid off: Nine high school graduates who were not initially admitted to Slippery Rock University have been accepted as full-time undergraduates for the spring semester after successfully completing SRU's new Gateway Program.
The program gives high school graduates who performed well on standardized tests but whose GPA wasn't quite up to standard, an alternative entrance program. SRU required the students to take four university-level courses taught by faculty and receive a grade of C or better.
Students say the program helped them get serious about academics after lackadaisical high school careers.
"I couldn't be happier that I am enrolled for the spring. It's all sort of surreal, but honestly, I feel like I am just more prepared to go into the spring semester and do twice as good as I would have before taking the Gateway Program," said Bailey Smith, an exploratory major from Wexford.
SRU introduced the 13-credit program at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry fall semester. Students took classes in writing, mathematics, government and philosophy. The University will move the program to campus in 2016.
"I participated in this program because I really do want to go to SRU," Smith said. "This program was sort of like a blessing in itself. Knowing that I had to pass this semester in order to make it to campus was like the little kick that I needed to make me realize that, 'this is the real world and you got to work for what you want.' I feel like this semester really gave me the opportunity to find who I am as a student."
Chris Kreiser, assistant professor of English and program head, emphasized that he and other professors who taught classes would continue to mentor the students.
"Gateway is billed as a one-semester program, but it's really a four-year program," Kreiser said. "I am going to mentor them and be their adviser."
Kreiser praised the other three professors who taught classes in the fall: Andrew Winters, instructor of philosophy; Heather Frederick, associate professor of political science; and Richard Marchand, professor of mathematics.
"They went above and beyond, traveling back and fourth and emailing with students," Kreiser said. "The faculty really made this program work."
Kreiser said the initial class of 11 students who participated in Gateway this past fall graduated from high school in May. Although the showed potential, their grades weren't strong enough for admission to the University. Program organizers hoped the intensive, highly focused program, combined with personal mentoring, would turn them around.
"In high school, I guess you could say that I was not really applying myself as much as I should have," Smith said. "Life's distractions got in the way of me seeing what was really important and that was my education. Towards the end of my junior year, I sort of had a reality check and decided that I needed to change things if I wanted to get into a good college. There on, throughout the course of my senior year, I really applied myself and got the grades that I knew I was deserving of. However, my junior grades are what set me back from moving to campus in the fall."
Smith said the Gateway Program fostered a good relationship with the professors.
"Going into college can be scary, especially with the complex nature behind the academics and the sometimes monstrous assignments," she said. "Allowing myself to create a good relationship with my professors really decreased my intimidation about college. I also feel like I gained so much skill work from my classes that will really help me in the real world. For example, philosophy with Dr. Winters really opened my eyes to a new branch of thinking and questioning. This helped me tremendously when I had to write an argument paper in both his class and Dr. Kreiser's."
"I am excited to start my career as a college student and see where life takes me," Smith said.
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