Gateway Courses: The First Step To Student Success

Last Updated:
May 17, 2023
Brian Wallace

Did you know that a student's progress in their first year of college predicts their overall retention and completion of their degree? If students do not feel confident in their academic ability by the end of their second semester, the chances that they stay in college goes down dramatically. One of the leading factors in building student confidence in their academics are gateway courses


Gateway courses are the first college-level courses a student takes in a subject area. Most colleges require gateway courses in math and English, and passing these classes are the first milestone on the path to students earning their degree. Nationally, only 16% of community college students complete gateway courses in both math and English in their first year, and this can greatly hinder their chances of completing their degree on time.


This is where faculty involvement can be crucial in students' experience. Many students are not sure where to start, and take any math or English course that sounds like it might be a good fit. However, there are many different gateway math and English classes, and many are geared towards certain major or degree programs. Faculty can take students' high school test scores, GPA, and intended majors in order to find the right gateway course for them. When students take gateway courses that relate to their major, they are then more confident in courses they take in the future since they have already been oriented to some of the content. 


Raising the number of students who complete their degrees is critical for our future. Gateway courses can help this initiative, and you can learn all about why they are so important in the infographic below:

Gateway Course for Student Success
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative

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