“Going to college was the beginning of my life.”
DENVER – By the time Karly Porter turned 14, she had lived in more than half a dozen places, watched her mother battle drug addiction, dropped out of school, and been placed in foster care. By the time she was 18, she was homeless. Her future held more of the same.
And then she woke up.
“Watching my friend use crack for the first time was the moment I knew I had to make a choice,” remembers Karly. “Either I was going to follow her down that path or I was going to have to go in a different direction. I decided to reinvent myself.”
With only three semesters of high school, Karly had to start by getting her GED. Then, she enrolled in Community College of Denver where it took three years to complete remedial classes and college prep classes with an emphasis in business. She graduated with a 3.7 percent GPA, but she still lacked confidence in her ability to do college work.
“My counselors suggested I consider the University of Colorado Denver but to me that seemed like such a prestigious university I wouldn’t even consider applying,” Karly says. “But my counselors saw the passion I had to succeed and they insisted I try.”
Now, in a new program called the CC to CU Denver Admission Promise, newly enrolled community college students will find a guaranteed seamless transfer between a Colorado Community College and the University of Colorado Denver. The program provides joint admission at a Colorado Community College and the University of Colorado Denver as well as on-campus advising from the University of Colorado Denver and from the Colorado Community Colleges.
“The CC to CU Denver Admission Promise spotlights the University of Colorado Denver’s commitment to educating more of our state’s citizens and supporting them – wherever they begin their college education – in completing their bachelor’s degree,” says Chancellor Jerry Wartgow, PhD. “Advising from both CU Denver and the community college counselors will make the difference in helping these students not only earn their associate’s degree at their community college but also their bachelor’s degree from CU Denver.”
The CC to CU Denver Admission Program partners students with CU Denver and Colorado Community College advisors from the time they begin their studies and ensures the students meet regularly with the advisors to assure they are on track. When Karly Porter decided to apply to CU Denver, she found excellent advisers at the Denver Transfer Initiative (DTI), the very successful program between CU Denver and the Community College of Denver. The Admission Promise program is modeled after the DTI where 98 percent of transfer students stay in school.
Karly can laugh now when she recalls the application process. “I had no idea how to even find the right forms much less how to fill them out. I was walking in the dark, and my advisors turned on the light. They backed me and smoothed the bumps in the road. They found scholarships and grants to make college possible. When I heard I was accepted, my knees buckled and I sat down and cried.”
Today, Karly Porter is a senior looking forward to graduation with a degree in marketing. She works two jobs to support herself, including a job acting as a peer mentor for other students in need of scholarship advice. “Since I came to college, I have food on the table, electricity to turn on the lights, and people who don’t hurt me,” she says. “To me, going to college was the beginning of my life.”
Students in the promise program agree to meet certain academic standards that are established by the CU Denver schools and community colleges they choose to attend. They must enter the community college as a first-time freshman and have not had any previous courses to be eligible for this program. Students also agree to meet with their assigned CU Denver academic advisor at least once a term. These advisors will travel to the community colleges to make their meetings as convenient as possible for their students.
The Admission Promise program receives high marks from Karly Porter. “You don’t have to be stereotypical to be successful,” she points out. “At college I found intellectual people who changed me. I brought my perspective to them. Now, with this program, even more students can have a chance to improve their lives.”
By Vicki Hildner & Jacque Montgomery