Gateway to College Academy (GtC) is an Early College Charter High School, which is an innovative partnership between Santa Rosa Junior College and K-12 partner Petaluma City Schools, that enables high-promise students to obtain a quality high school education while simultaneously receiving invaluable access to college courses and services. Gateway to College prepares students for college academic success and career readiness by maintaining high academic standards while providing high individual support.
Once admitted into the program, students begin receiving comprehensive services like tutoring, job referrals, health care, housing and more. Students attend high school classes on the college campus exclusively with other GtC students and instructors. During their first semester, also called the "Foundation Term", students enroll in 2-3 high school courses and co-enroll in a College Survival class to learn and practice the habits of mind needed to transform themselves into successful college students. This experience builds their academic and personal skills, preparing them to transition to college courses with the general student population beginning their second semester.
After completing the initial Foundation Term, students transition to the comprehensive campus, taking college classes with the general student population. Students focus their studies in a "pathway" or major that is aligned with high school completion requirements as well as a college degree, certificate, and/or university transfer requirement. This allows students to maximize college credit acquisition toward their post secondary goals.
The program achieves success by combining high academic expectations with one-on-one counseling and support. Throughout their experience, students work with their academic counselor on issues ranging from transportation and study habits to pathway selection and applying for scholarships. Staff and faculty act as coaches, mentors and advisors. The wrap-around support of the GtC team keeps students on the right track for success.
Gateway to College admits emerging adults, 16 to 20 years old, who are behind in high school credits or stopped attending high school before graduating. Students attend both high school and college classes Monday through Friday exclusively at the SRJC Petaluma campus. SRJC enrollment fees are exempted for high school concurrent enrollment students and all required SRJC textbooks are provided at no cost to GtC students.
SRJC Petaluma's Gateway to College program is part of a national network of Gateway to College programs. Here is more information about the Gateway to College Network:
In 2000, Portland (OR) Community College developed an innovative suite of programs featuring intensive support for 16 to 21 year olds who have dropped out of high school or are not on track to graduate.
Here is more information about California Early College High School models:
California Education Code (EC) Section 11302 declares that Early College High School (ECHS) are innovative partnerships between charter or non-charter public secondary schools and a local community college, the California State University, or the University of California that allow pupils to earn a high school diploma and up to two years of college credit in four years or less. ECHS are small, autonomous schools that blend high school and college into a coherent educational program.
The basic elements of ECHS include:
- Coherent instructional framework
- Student-centered learning environments
- Location near or on a college campus
- Students simultaneously earn a high school diploma and up to two years of transferrable college credit
- Strong school district partnerships with colleges
ECHS facilitate a greater participation of at-risk, low-income, and students of color in college level courses. ECHS potentially decrease high school drop-out rates while increasing students’ access to post-secondary education. Students are rewarded for hard work by the opportunity to accelerate at typically minor cost to the student. The physical transition between high school and college is eliminated, and learning takes place in a personalized environment where rigorous work is demanded and supported.
California Education Code (EC) Section 46146.5 exempts an ECHS and a MCHS from the 240-minute school day requirement. The legislation provides that a day of attendance for an ECHS or MCHS student is 180 minutes if the student is a special part-time student enrolled in a community college under specified provisions, or the student is enrolled in grades 11 or 12 and is also enrolled part-time in classes at California State University or University of California campuses. EC 46146.5 also reduces the minimum instructional time requirements for charter schools that operate as ECHS and MCHS.