The Gateway to the City Colleges of Chicago Program, a Reinvention initiative, is an incentive based program that targets advanced levels of English as a Second Language (ESL) and GED students and offers support as they transition to college credit and career programs at the City Colleges of Chicago. One of the unique aspects of the program is that students start college while completing the Adult Education Program. In order to expand the concept of starting college now, an intensive District-wide marketing and strategic awareness effort has been implemented during the spring of 2012 and summer 2012 terms.
The summer marketing campaign was the initial phase to promote this unique opportunity and increase awareness of this new program across the six colleges that offer Adult Education: Richard J. Daley, Harry S Truman, Malcolm X, Kennedy- King, Olive-Harvey, and Wilbur Wright College. The success of the campaign should be reflected by the total student enrollment in the Gateway Program this fall. The target number of students to apply and enroll in the Gateway Program for the 2012-2013 academic year is 500 students across the District, including satellite campuses and off campus locations that offer advanced levels of ESL and GED classes.
Marketing internally for the Gateway Program with a minimal budget, while still developing a holistic promotional campaign to raise awareness of the program has been a challenge. This has encouraged us to think of more creative ways to share the qualities and benefits of the program with as many students as possible. A full suite of printed materials including customized brochures, flyers and handouts was designed to reflect the new City Colleges of Chicago colors and create a feeling of connection between Adult Education students and the college where they study.
Gateway bulletin boards were installed at the six colleges and their respective satellite locations to provide information about the program. The bulletin boards display flyers, brochures for students to take, and important dates about the program, including application deadlines and Gateway Orientation locations and times. The most important feature of the boards is the space to display a picture and profile of a successful Adult Education student who has made the transition to college, and is now a Gateway Scholar. Also on display is a Gateway Program Mentor, an instructor or staff member who provides a leadership role for students in the Program.
As is so often the truth, “the best marketing is word of mouth.” With this in mind, we set off to inform the faculty, staff, and administration with the details of the Gateway Program. Often the Gateway Program Implementation Team can be found out of the District Office conducting informational workshops for Adult Education staff and giving presentations directly to Adult Education students. As the first point of contact for the students, it is essential that Adult Education staff members receive adequate training and information about the Gateway Program and the necessary steps students should take to successfully enroll in the program. We expect that these marketing and recruitment efforts will have a dramatic impact on the program’s success and expansion at each of the participating colleges.
– Edgar Gonzalez, Teaching and Learning Task Force