Hello, my name is Edgar Gonzalez. I am a student at Harold Washington College working on the implementation of the Gateway to the City Colleges Program that is a Reinvention initiative. The Gateway Program is designed to help increase the number of Adult Education students that transition to college credit courses. On March 6th, 2012 I attended the 33rd annual Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association (IACEA) Conference in Springfield to learn about Adult Education college transition programs and best practices throughout the state of Illinois. Many community colleges presented workshops that relate to transition and bridge programs.
One outstanding program was at the Heartland Community College. They shared their blueprints for a successful transition/bridge program for Adult and ESL students wanting to bridge into a health care career. The program prepares students for success in college courses that eventually lead to a degree. There are several important key points to make a note of when implementing a transition and/or bridge program for Adults wanting to continue their education. Some of the key take areas that I learned from the workshop were:
- Successful holistic transition/bridge programs can help adult learners explore career opportunities within a certain fields as they prepare to enter the degree or certificate program of their choice.
- A transition/bridge program in any college can help students qualify for better job opportunities and have the knowledge and skills to succeed in higher education.
- Retention is a fundamental key for a successful transition/bridge program.
- An extensive internal and external marketing campaign is needed to bring visibility to the program. The campaign can be then implemented in selected targeted “hot spots” where students can pick up a brochures or flyer. These hot spots do not necessarily need to be on campus. Off-site locations like those locations of partnerships can be a place to promote the program.
Hearing the success stories of Heartland and other community colleges, we can understand the importance for transition/bridge programs and the need to help move the thousands of ESL and GED students that we serve forward to college credit programs. The conference allowed me to learn about different strategies and best practices that can be adapted to the Gateway Program. Finally, I was also able to learn how meaningful and rewarding it is to be an Adult Educator.
– Edgar Gonzalez, Student, Harold Washington College