Gateway students describe challenges, successes

Jack Arkus, Contributing Writer

 

For most college freshmen, being away from home is an anticipated freedom that begins on Move-in Day.

For members of the Eastern Gateway program, this idea of complete independence is slightly limited for their first year of college.

Gateway is the provisional admissions program at Eastern that helps freshman and some sophomore students who are at risk academically.

A student has to have a minimum of a 16 ACT and 2.0 GPA in high school to be considered for the program.

Students in Gateway must meet weekly with their adviser and attend weekly study hall hours.

If they get a 2.0 GPA and have a total of 20 credit hours by the end of their first academic year, they will be able to get out of the program.

Pat Gallanis, a freshman accounting major, is in his second semester of the program and is ready for it to be his last.

“The college routine is something I feel I can do by myself without all this supervision,” Gallanis said.

He said his laziness in high school reflected poorly on his transcript, which is why he is in the program to begin with.

“To me, it has negatively impacted my first two semesters of college because of the six study hours I do every week without being able to use my laptop for online homework,” Gallanis said.

Gallanis said students are not allowed to use their laptops because of possible distractions.

Senior Gateway adviser Don Dawson is responsible for getting information about advising and resources on campus and passing it on to the other advisers.

He sees the program as effective, but does acknowledge the difficulties that can come with it.

“The biggest challenge is trying to instill maturity and accountability,” Dawson said. “The growth I see are the students who with guidance and instruction flourish as semesters go on. We have had students in the Honors College in the spring of their freshman year. ”

Melisa Cavka, a freshman finance major, feels ambivalent about her first two semesters in the program. To her, the perk of belonging to the Gateway Program is meeting with her adviser on a weekly basis to see where she stands academically.

“The negatives of the program are the strict study hours and not being able to participate in some (registered student organizations),” Cavka said. “If I could make a change to the program I would get rid of the requirement to take (the required seminars) because they are non-credit classes.”

The program currently has about 165 freshmen and 40 sophomores.  An estimated 70 percent of the students are minorities while 30 percent are Caucasian, Dawson said.

Dawson said other regional universities like Western Illinois, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and Indiana State have similar programs to Eastern’s Gateway but with different names.

Gabe Garcia went to Eastern last fall and was a member of Gateway. He did not return to the university this fall because of familial obligations.

He plans to take courses at his local community college and return to Eastern as a sophomore next fall while still belonging to Gateway for one semester.

“Being in the program has really given me a sense of what proper time management looks like as a college student,” Garcia said. “I see it as just another class to worry about while trying to prepare for tests and establish a healthy social life.”

 

Jack Arkus can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]