By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor
Every summer at Grand Rapids Community College, hundreds of incoming students are receiving free tutoring and forgoing remedial college courses at no cost.
The FastTrack program at GRCC accepted the “Lee Noel and Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award” in July, a national recognition that only three institutions received. The award recognizes programs that keep students on the path to graduation.
The program caters to incoming students, mostly recent high school graduates, that need extra attention in the areas of writing, reading or math. Three, three-week sections are offered in one summer. All subjects are covered in each section throughout the summer.
What started as a pilot program in the summer of 2012, FastTrack has seen 659 students complete the program. According to recent data, about 69 percent of the students continue to a college level course in the fall. As a result of this, in-district students will save about $600 in tuition, fees, and books for every remedial course they pass in the summer. Out-of-district students will save about $1,200 for each course.
Based on students’ accuplacer scores, the school will send them an invitation in the mail inviting them to the upcoming FastTrack programs.
This summer, the staff went into a number of schools and administered the accuplacer tests, and then students were able to sign up for the June FastTrack programs. Students who completed the June session were given the option to take a free CLS100 class for the second summer session.
Upon registering, students are connected with a college success coach, who will help them through the college process, only beginning with the program. Students meet with their coach to talk about their goals and will be able to schedule their classes, figure out financial aid, and receive tours that are more in depth than a typical campus tour.
“During the english and reading FastTracks we give a campus tour that’s actually different from what orientation gives,” said Kelly Kozloski, Program Support Coordinator. “We actually show where to get food, where to deposit on a RaiderCard, where free parking is if need. We go more in depth to those details of what a student should know, instead of just finding that out by themselves.”
Each classroom has a maximum of 22 students and is taught by a professional tutor and a student or professional assistant.
“Just this past year, I’ve had two students who took FastTrack, now they’ve come back this summer to tutor for FastTrack as an assistant,” Kozloski said, seeing the success results in the bigger picture.
Although most of the students are recent high school graduates, Kozloski said that during the months of July and August the classes are “mixed,” where about 15 percent of the students enrolled are non-traditional incoming students.