In 2008, I was hired as a part-time Transition Specialist in the Adult Education department at Malcolm X. At that time, I was one of only two part-time and one full-time Transition Specialists working with Adult Education students at two of the six colleges that offered Adult Education classes.
As a Transition Specialist my responsibilities varied from working with students enrolled in the newly created Bridge, Fast Track and online GED prep classes, identifying and referring students to off-campus resources such as child care, financial assistance and employment; and arranging graduation and homecoming activities, etc. With a total enrollment of 2,930* Adult Education students at Malcolm X, it was impossible to provide even minimal service to the majority of our students.
Fast forward to fall 2012; building on the success of the Truman College Incentive Program, Reinvention has worked with administrators, faculty, and students to pilot and expand the Gateway to the City of Chicago program to all seven colleges and two satellite sites. The Gateway program provides high-level ESL and GED students the opportunity to earn college credits toward the completion of a basic or advanced certificate and/or work toward an associate’s degree at a reduced cost while completing their Adult Education program.
A recommendation of the Adult Education Reinvention Task Force was to increase the number of Transition Specialists district-wide. In addition, their collaboration with College Advisors would be a key part of the college transition goal of the Gateway Program. As of today, there are 11 full-time and 2 part-time Transition Specialists, with at least one College Advisor assigned at each campus to work with the Transition Specialists to foster the transition to college-credit classes.
Transition Specialists are an integral part of the success of the Gateway program and are charged with recruitment and advising. Their primary focus is ensuring that academic and student services are in place to support Gateway students, known as Gateway Scholars. It is important that the Transition Specialists are able to share their success stories, creative ideas and yes, frustrations with one another.
The Transition Specialists and nine of the assigned College Advisors recently came together at the District office to receive program updates and to share best practices. This meeting was the culmination of weekly conference calls that provide the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics, including marketing efforts, current and potential roadblocks, and student successes.
Attendees received updates regarding PeopleSoft, the online application, registration business process and updates to the policy manual. They were also able to share best practices at their individual colleges.
Abdul King, a Transition Specialist at Kennedy-King, shared some of his recruitment tips that included being a self-starter, persistence and to always provide good customer service. Abdul states, “I just want the best for all of the students and I am willing to help them get there if they put the work in.”
Yanet Diaz, an Academic Advisor at Wright has a caseload of more than 600 college credit students, but realizes the importance of advising students in the Gateway program. Yanet shared the following with the group, “Academic Advisors must cater to the needs of Adult Education students as they transition into credit classes because they have different needs from credit students. As an advisor, we must make an extra effort to ensure that they know our names and contact information, schedules and where our offices are located.”
Gateway Scholars are well on their way to securing a quality education and training that can lead to an advanced degree or employment or both. Transition Specialists are now in place to provide the assistance and guidance to help make our students’ dreams of obtaining a certificate or degree a reality.
For additional information on the Gateway program or to contact a Transition Specialist, click on http://www.ccc.edu/departments/Pages/Gateway.aspx
*October 31, 2008 – ICCB Headcount enrollment includes on-campus, off-campus, and satellite sites.
-Brenda Baker, Student Support and Services Task Force