College offers bridge to high school students

Getting students to college and helping them be successful once there is John Kinkella's goal as dean of student support services at Western Nevada College.

To do that, however, he said students, parents, teachers and administrators have to work together.

That's where WNC's Bridge to Success program comes in. It guides high school seniors through a specific process for enrolling in college and continuing their studies.

"Through our collaboration with high school counselors, students and their families, Bridge to Success increases the rate at which students reach their college and career goals," he said. "We feel like it's a wonderful partnership."

Kinkella will present the program to the Carson City School Board on Tuesday.

Since the inception of Bridge to Success, the number of high school seniors continuing on to WNC after graduation has risen from 18 percent in 2005 to 29 percent in 2010.

"Students who start college right out of high school are more likely to complete their degree," he said. "We're right in line with the governor's priorities."

Kinkella said the college starts working with students as young as middle school, but Bridge to Success really targets high school seniors.

Mentors work one-on-one with students, giving them personalized attention. A group formed last year to focus on Latino students, and one this year will work with American Indians.

It begins with the application, then the students gets help from a college counselor to determine a degree objective.

The next step is to take a placement test, then apply for financial aid.

Finally, the student is guided through the process of applying for classes and registers to attend an orientation program.

In 2005, 27 students participated in the program. In 2010, there were 135 participants.

Kinkella said the majority of students entering Western Nevada College are from Carson and Douglas high schools, but that there are representatives from all seven counties the college serves.

"It's tremendous," he said.

For some, WNC is their final education destination. For others, it is just beginning.

Kinkella pointed out that a two-year college is a more affordable way to start post-secondary education and that students who begin there are better prepared once they transfer to a university.

"You can start at WNC and go anywhere," he said. "Students who start at WNC do very well in their third year. They're very successful."


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