What is Access to Success?


In an effort to improve options for those severely at-risk or who have completely dropped out of high school, the Helena School District, in cooperation with Helena College, created Access to Success in 2009. Bringing together school district personnel, college personnel and community members to identify the needs of the community was the first step in creating this new pathway.  Since then, Access to Success has graduated over 200 students, nearly half going on to attend two or four year colleges and continues to serve as a model dropout recovery/reengagement program for Montana.

Access to Success is a high school diploma completion program.  All coursework is provided in an adult learning environment.  Eligibility requirements include: students must be at least 16 years old and meet minimum reading levels, are not currently enrolled in school and do not have a high school diploma. Those not meeting eligibility requirements will be referred to other skill building programs within the district (Adult Basic Education).

How is Access to Success Different?

At Access to Success we understand that the one sized fits all approach to education does not work for all students. Many students who have completed our program credit small classes, accessibility to teacher support and encouragement, creative lessons, and an adult learning environment where they are encouraged to take charge of their own academic and personal achievements, as the reason for their success. Teachers and staff are experienced in alternative education and understand that each student must be assessed, approached, and encouraged individually to ensure their success.

Who is a Typical Student?

All sorts of students thrive in this environment and there is no typical Access to Success student. Those who enroll in the program come from all sorts of situations and have different reasons for leaving traditional high school. Some students may need all 21 credits, some may need one credit and all have varying life experiences and age ranges that add to the program’s uniqueness and success. This type of student body works well to encourage lively classroom discussion and group interaction, as well as deters negativity such as bullying or harassment.

What will I receive?

After completion of Montana’s required 21 credits, you will receive a Helena School District Diploma. This is not a HiSet (formerly GED) program. You will receive a high school diploma.  

How much does it cost?

Students pay a one time $30 application fee. Parking permits are $15 per year.

Five benefits of a high school diploma.

  • Students who learn more, earn more: The U.S. Census Bureau estimates a person with a high school diploma will earn $9,634 more per year than a high school drop out.
  • You’re less likely to be unemployed: High school completers are less likely to be unemployed than those who have dropped out of high school.
  • You’ll open your mind to new things: By increasing your education, you open your mind to discover opportunities in your life you never knew existed.
  • You’ll feel better about yourself: Research shows that confidence and self-esteem are linked to your education level. Those with a high school diploma had a higher level of self-esteem than those that did not.
  • Chances are you’ll get a better job: Employers around the country are looking for educated and qualified workers. A recent study shows that 47% of high school dropouts surveyed said that the lack of a high school diploma made it harder for them to find a good job.

How do I get started?

Call our office to learn about information nights or to schedule an appointment to speak with someone about the program, or stop by the office to learn more.

Access to Success - Helena College
1115 N. Roberts St.
Room 225

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