HAMMOND – When Michael Eldridge first entered Western Illinois University several years ago, he admits he was unprepared for the college experience.
“At the time, school just wasn’t right for me, or I wasn’t mature enough to actually try,” says the Bogalusa resident, now a sophomore at Southeastern Louisiana University. “There was lots of partying and skipping class. I ended up dropping out of college and joining the Army.”
After several years in the military – which included two combat deployments to Iraq between 2007 and 2010 – Eldridge attempted to enroll at Southeastern; his poor grades from Western Illinois, however, made him ineligible for admission. A friend suggested he enroll at Northshore Technical Community College, which now offers general education courses on Southeastern’s campus.
Eldridge was admitted into the Connect to Success program, a joint venture between NTCC and Southeastern that expands access and preparation of NTCC students who have the opportunity to eventually transfer to a baccalaureate program at Southeastern or some other university. The program was initiated in 2012 and allows NTCC students to take developmental and general education courses on Southeastern’s campus in order to earn the credits necessary to be formally admitted to a four-year institution. Currently, approximately 200 students participate in the program.
“Connect to Success was developed to provide post-secondary educational opportunities for students in our region who are seeking to attend a college or university, but don’t yet meet admission criteria,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “Admission standards at Southeastern have risen over the last several years, and some prospective students aren’t eligible for admission. We want to provide these students an efficient and effective opportunity to meet those standards. Our partnership with NTCC is achieving that goal.”
“Access and student success are central to the design of the Connect to Success program, said NTCC Chancellor William Wainwright. “University and college faculty and staff cross-trained to assess students’ needs and implement strategies for their success has led to the explosive growth of this most important program serving the greater northshore region.”
Crain and Wainwright agree the partnership is a win-win for both institutions and, most importantly, for their students.
Southeastern certifies faculty credentials and curricula for the courses offered through the program to ensure they are transferrable. Students enrolled in the program are entitled to use Southeastern’s Textbook Rental program, which allows students to rent rather than purchase books used in their courses. They also have access to the university’s computer labs, library and Student Union, as well as other amenities and services.
Another benefit of Connect to Success is the joint admissions and registration process and academic and career counseling services offered through their enrollment.
“NTCC made enrolling in the program very simple, and the program helped me get back into the student mindset,” said Eldridge, now a biology major with plans to eventually become a physician’s assistant. “The classes are small, so the instructors had lots of time to deal with the students individually. Connect to Success made transitioning from solider to student incredibly easy.”
* Available online at www.southeastern.edu/news_media/news_releases