Advanced Tech at College Reunion

Earleena Sewell
Advanced Tech at College alumna Earleena Sewell participated in the program's first reunion.

Advanced Tech at College (ATC), a program that allows high school juniors and seniors to earn their diploma at the college while simultaneously earning college credits, celebrated its fifth successful year with its first ever reunion on Jan. 8 in the Great Hall. Some two dozen alumni returned for the informal reception, exchanged memories and caught up with former classmates and ATC faculty. Many of the ATC graduates gave impromptu remarks and expressed gratitude for the two-year program.

ATC graduate Earleena Sewell credited her success to the support she received from ATC staff, who at times served as her surrogate parents. "I had a lot of issues, and I believe I would not be where I am now without this program," Sewell told her former classmates—some of whom had returned to the College while on break from Temple University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, George Mason University and even the U.S. Army.

Sewell is among the 90 percent of ATC graduates who advanced to a college or university. She was recruited into ATC in 2004 from John Bartram High School—a place where she admitted her primary focus was wearing the right clothes, making the right friends and avoiding fights. "I was a respectful young lady, but I mainly went to school because my parents said I had to. I didn't think education was important," she said.

Sewell, 20, who obtained her associate's degree at Community College of Philadelphia, currently works at Northern Children's Home. She is also completing her senior year at Temple University, where she expects to graduate in December and become the first in her family to earn a college degree.

ATC allows students from Philadelphia high schools to take their junior year and senior year classes on the College's Main Campus. Students can simultaneously earn enough College credits to qualify as college sophomores by the time they graduate high school. "The program has shown that with the appropriate resources and support, it is possible for students who are at risk of dropping out to complete high school and make a smooth transition to the world of higher education and work," said ATC Director Linda Hansell.

Over the last five years, ATC has accepted 119 students from high schools that have some of the highest drop out rates in the School District of Philadelphia. The city's school district has a 45.5 percent high school drop out rate. To date, 89 students have completed ATC and received their high school diplomas. Another 23 students are expected to graduate in June.

Hansell said ATC also has raised the College matriculation and College completion rate of student participants. Nearly 87 percent of the ATC graduates who enrolled in college immediately after high school have persisted beyond their first year of college. Sewell is one of four ATC grads who already have earned associate's degrees.

ATC is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and a partnership between the College and the School District of Philadelphia. To qualify, students must have at least a 2.5 grade point average and have maintained an attendance rate of at least 90 percent in their freshman and sophomore years.