Right now, there are high school students somewhere on BMCC’s campus, and it’s not by mistake: they’re getting ahead as part of the College Now program.
The joint venture by CUNY and the New York City Department of Education is designed for city public high school students who want new academic challenges and the experience of real college life before finishing high school. Under the program, high school students take college courses for credit and have full access to BMCC resources — library, computer labs and athletic facilities — and it’s all free.
“We want New York City public school students to get ready for the next big thing: college,” says Deirdre Anderson, the program’s director. “Not only will they have had the opportunity to see what it’s like to take a college course before they’ve left high school, they are able to go in with extra credits and some of their college prerequisites out of the way.”
Anderson says “The college setting is different from a high school setting and it’s helpful for students to experience that before immersing themselves in college for the first time.”
What exactly are the differences?
“First, there is not a bell that is going to ring to tell students what to do next. Their time management is completely their own. They are responsible for knowing where they are supposed to be, and when they are supposed to be there,” she says.
Classes in high school and college also differ in terms of how much students need to participate to be successful, Anderson says. To really get the benefit of college courses, it’s a give and take relationship. Aside from doing homework, the student needs to participate and come into class with a point of view of his or her own.”
For some, the benefit of College Now is seeing what subjects may interest them.
“This gives students an opportunity, even as they enter their freshman year, to see if a certain subject is interesting to them,” says Anderson. “Even before they begin their formal college career, they may know whether or not a certain subject is a major that they would like to seek in earnest.”
“People come with one idea and then find out that they’re interested in something else completely and the earlier you can attach yourself to your passion, the luckier you are. And you have the opportunity to do that when you start taking college courses so early,” she says.
So far, Anderson has been more than pleased with the success of College Now. “We have students who come in and experience this, and are taking a second and third course,” she says. “They find out quickly that their fear of speaking in front of people begins to fade when they know what they’re talking about.”