Every year, millions of American high school students toss their caps in the air at graduation, ready to enter college for the first time. For Gatton Academy graduates, the change is not as dramatic.
This year’s graduating class of 48 students from the Gatton Academy will attend an array of post-secondary institutions across the country in the fall, ranging from Indiana University to the University of Chicago, with some remaining at WKU.
Mallory Melton, Gatton’s coordinator of student services, said the exact statistics are “in flux,” but that the “majority” of students have already decided.
“For many they’ve had multiple offers for full ride scholarships,” Melton said.
Historically, 31 percent of Gatton students attend WKU, and overall 71 percent go to a Kentucky college or university, according to Chad Phillips, Gatton’s assistant director.
The Universities of Louisville and Kentucky both offer Gatton graduates full tuition, and WKU offers a full-ride.
Melton said she meets with students one-on-one at least twice to discuss college preparations. Once during their junior year, and once during their senior year.
“Part of our philosophy is to tell them how unique of an opportunity they have (in Kentucky),” Melton said. “Sometimes that opportunity is harder out of state.”
However, Melton said she encourages students to apply to several schools.
“We preach to them ‘give yourself options,’” Melton said.
Gatton senior Aaron Brzowski is taking advantage of WKU’s opportunities. He said he applied to UK, Alabama and WKU, but that he ultimately chose WKU because of its full-ride scholarship.
Brzowski already has 75 college credits and plans to receive two bachelor’s degrees, two minors and a master’s degree in the next four years at WKU.
While Melton said that many Gatton students would likely be admitted to Ivy League schools, many of them choose not to go due to “financial barriers.”
“There are a handful of students that actually attend Ivy Leagues,” she said. “We’ve had many who would have been admitted but could not go due to financial barriers.”
For Brzowski, the decision to attend Gatton was “the best choice I’ve ever made.”
Already, Brzowski has shown what type of student he will likely be while attending WKU. He helped start a non-profit to distribute water filters in Nepal and will use a $3,000 grant from Gatton to conduct research there for a month.
“The opportunities available are absolutely ridiculous,” Brzowski said.