Overcoming obstacles is what Lucas Schoen has done all his life. In the last few years, Lucas learned how to manage a learning disability and discovered that UVM’s Guaranteed Admission program was a way to an undergrad degree, when he thought college wasn’t an option. Lucas is pushing himself and tackling challenges to carve out his pathway to continuing his education.
From Gap Year to Guaranteed Admission at UVM
Lucas admittedly wasn’t a great high school student and “played hooky” a lot. He attended a high school in Honolulu, Hawaii that specialized in supporting students with a variety of learning disabilities. However, he wasn’t taking his studies too seriously and didn’t feel like he was ready to jump into college.
“I never took my SATs, so, I knew that my college experience or getting into college would be kind of a tough road,” said Lucas Schoen. “And I might have to go to community college for two years before jumping into a regular college program.”
But one afternoon, while “pounding nails” in a construction job, he heard a radio ad about the University of Vermont’s Guaranteed Admission Program, or GAP, as a potential way to get into an undergraduate degree program. And within days. Lucas was enrolled as a non-degree UVM student, with a plan in place to transfer into an undergraduate degree program. “Literally like five minutes later, I called into UVM and I sent all of my transcripts as it was getting near the fall semester,” Lucas shared. “They told me I need to rush my materials in and literally, I’d gotten a meeting on Friday before school is about to start, and Monday, I started as a GAP student at UVM.”
Making the Transition from Construction to College Lectures
When Lucas first met with GAP student advisor, Kristen Kalbashian, he was encouraged by the opportunities that could open up to him as a GAP student at UVM. But he also says, he really wasn’t sure if he was even still ready for college. So, Lucas decided to either sink or swim. He found that taking advantage of all of the resources available to UVM GAP students made a huge difference in his transition into college life. “The help centers and everything they have are amazing. I’ve relied my first semester on the writing center because I was just out of practice and I have some learning disabilities. Right away, it helped me structure a paper and to be able to cite sources at a college level, I hadn’t really done that before.”
Part of UVM’s support for GAP students includes the new online Enrichment Learning Community, designed to prepare students for college life and beyond. The Enrichment Learning Community helps students build study skills including writing, mathematics, and time management and develop meaningful connections with other students. GAP students also have access to additional University resources, such as academic success coaches, tutoring, career counseling, and faculty support.
GAP students must take a minimum of 18 credit hours in approved UVM courses, not to exceed 30 credit hours within three years and earn a GAP cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher to gain admission to the University. Another advantage to UVM’s GAP program for students is the ability to choose full- or part-time scheduling. GAP students often balance work, family, and life commitments without having to sacrifice the opportunity to learn.
And for Lucas, finding a way to continue to learn is something that he feels really passionate about. “I think every challenge, every obstacle is just something for you to overcome. And if you’re like me with learning disability, you can overcome that. I never thought I’d be here, and I’m sure a lot of people never thought I’d be in college, but I’m here, I’m flourishing and I’m excited.”