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High schoolers get bridge to college at UNM-Gallup

One of the driving forces at UNM-Gallup is a fundamental value of open access. Providing noncompetitive admissions allows us to concentrate our efforts on transforming lives, and providing a road map for people to achieve their educational and professional goals. With an open admissions structure, UNM-Gallup’s doors are wide open, and students are met at whatever place they are in their educational journeys and their lives.

Two-year campuses, like UNM-Gallup, serve multiple roles within their communities, including career training venues, transfer centers and continuing education hubs. UNM-Gallup serves a diverse population of students, many of whom are part time (students) or adults returning to school later in life. The availability of associate degrees and short-term certificates propels students either directly into the workforce or on to a four-year institution to continue their education.

Community colleges generally offer lower tuition rates and a “close-to-home” advantage, and often serve as the first college exposure for many students and their families. With an eye toward inclusion, UNM-Gallup has improved access by increasingly extending services to high school students through a variety of concurrent educational options. UNM-Gallup believes students of all ages and walks of life should be able to benefit from equitable opportunities within higher education.

UNM-Gallup supports the operation of three on-campus concurrent enrollment programs. The Center for Career and Technical Education (CCTE) represents a cooperative effort between UNM-Gallup and the Gallup McKinley County School District, Rehoboth Christian School, Zuni Public School District and Wingate High School. Students are offered career and technical education coursework in programs of study not available at their home high schools. Through this local mill-levy-supported program, CCTE students are transported to the UNM-Gallup campus for classes in areas such as automotive technology, construction technology, criminal justice, cosmetology and early childhood multicultural education. Upon high school graduation, credit hours earned can be applied to certificate or degree programs.

The Middle College High School (MCHS), an on-campus charter school, is housed on the UNM-Gallup campus. Through a lottery-based system, students are admitted to MCHS and take both high school and college classes simultaneously. The school is chartered by the state of New Mexico and governed by a council of community members. While some core classes are taught by faculty of MCHS, the majority of classes are offered at the college level by university faculty.

The McKinley Academy (MA) is the newest of the collaborative programs and is a partnership with the Gallup McKinley County School District. Acceptance into MA is performance based, and students receive their academic coursework on the college campus, while still maintaining enrollment in their home high schools. Freshmen through seniors benefit from high school core and concurrent enrollment college classes under the instruction of both school district and UNM-Gallup faculty.

There are multiple benefits for students of all the UNM-Gallup high school collaborative programs. Concurrent students are able to accumulate a nest egg of college classes without having to incur tuition expenses. In addition to this affordability, students get a head start on college classes while still benefiting from the supportive environment of high school counselors, college advisors and personal support systems.

By hovering between high school and college, students benefit from accelerated coursework, while getting a glimpse of the rigors of college life. Through exposure to a number of different academic programs, students also learn of career pathway options that can guide their post-high school planning.

With 50 years of higher education experience behind us, UNM-Gallup looks forward to our future. We will continue to offer educational opportunities across a number of disciplines to our richly diverse, academically motivated and culturally engaged student body by insisting on access, support and, ultimately, student success.

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