Gateway Courses: The Key to College Success

Gateway courses are one of the best ways to ensure a strong start to any student’s college career. Defined as the first college-level course a student takes in a subject area, gateway courses have the power to alter the course of obtaining a degree for the better. 

Nationally, only 16% of community college students complete these courses in both math and english in the first year. Early momentum matters in these cases, as student progress in the first year predicts retention and completion. The completion of gateway courses affect both retention as well as credential or degree completion. All students have the power to succeed, however, not all are equipped with the tools that make it easier to do so.

Institutional mindset matters for student success. Experts say that institutions focused on being “student ready” will be best prepared to provide the needed support for all students admitted to their programs. Gateway course completion is an equity issue as well. For example, in the state of Kentucky, there are gaps in institutional performance due to race, income, and age. 

If proper placement and competent pedagogy is in place, gateway courses can be the most effective. In fact, impact is multiplied when gateway course success efforts are integrated with other institutional priorities. Most barriers that students face stem from their experience, or lack thereof, in basic courses like english or math. This only further proves why it is imperative for institutions to prioritize the pathway to student success.

Gateway Course for Student Success
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative