Bronx Community College to Become First CUNY “ASAP College” In University-wide Plan to Boost Associate Degree Attainment

October 16, 2015 | Bronx Community College, The University

Bronx Community College to Become First CUNY “ASAP College” In University-wide Plan to Boost Associate Degree Attainment

Chancellor addresses Community Colleges Trustees from nearly 40 states

Read the New York Daily News story, here.

Read the Inside Higher Ed story, here.

In a comprehensive initiative aimed at boosting the success of associate degree students, Chancellor James B. Milliken announced today that The City University of New York will embark on a broad strategy to increase graduation rates.

The initiative includes a full-scale transformation of Bronx Community College into an ASAP college — enrolling incoming, full-time freshmen into the University’s acclaimed academic support program, Accelerated Study in Associate Programs or ASAP.

The reimagining of Bronx Community College, which has the goal of graduating at least 50 percent of the students, is one of multiple strategies being launched by CUNY in what amounts to one of the most all-encompassing student outcome improvement initiatives in public higher education.

In a keynote address at the 46th annual Association of Community College Trustees Leadership Congress in San Diego, Chancellor Milliken cited a national “crisis at our community colleges.” To confront the challenges, CUNY will significantly expand ASAP, a nationally recognized program that has proven revolutionary in its effectiveness.

“It is not enough for us to provide just access or an opportunity for advancement. We have to take responsibility for equipping our students with the tools for seizing that opportunity and be held accountable when they do not,” Chancellor Milliken said.

Expansion planning will be led by Bronx Community College President Thomas A. Isekenegbe and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Claudia V. Schrader.

“This new plan takes Bronx Community College to a new level where every one of our students will receive both the support they need and a fair shot at earning their degree in a more timely manner,” President Isekenegbe said.

The CUNY initiative also includes:

  • With $42 million in city funding, CUNY will expand the nationally recognized ASAP program, from more than 4,000 students to more than 25,000 by 2018. ASAP expansion will focus on increasing STEM participation in the program at six community colleges and three senior colleges that offer associate degree programs: New York City College of Technology, College of Staten Island and Medgar Evers College.
  • CUNY Start, a pre-matriculation college preparation program for those requiring remediation, will double its number of enrolled students to 3,900 at nine colleges.
  • CUNY Summer Start, an intensive eight-week program that shows great promise in helping students become proficient in math, will expand to 4,000 students by 2019.

The CUNY plan will utilize city funding with the goal of raising the overall community college graduation rate to 34 percent over the next decade. The University’s priority, the Chancellor said, “must be continuing to raise the level of academic quality and student success.”

ASAP, which enrolls students at nine CUNY colleges, has garnered national attention and has been lauded by President Barack Obama for providing comprehensive academic support and financial resources to help students succeed. According to an independent study, ASAP students graduate at more than double the rates of non-ASAP students.

Founded in 2007, CUNY’s ASAP program assists students in earning associate degrees within three years through a wide range of supports including tuition waivers, transit cards and free use of textbooks. The State of New York has provided support for the expansion of ASAP in recent budgets.

The ambitious effort at Bronx Community College will enroll incoming freshmen into an ASAP pipeline, aiming to graduate at least 50 percent within three years.

At Bronx Community College, ASAP’s impact already has proved astonishing. Currently, just 11 percent of all students there graduate within three years. However, for those in ASAP at Bronx Community, the three-year graduation rate is 61 percent.

Students in ASAP, like Ambra Quinones, can attest to the program’s life-changing potential. Quinones said the financial help combined with the support of tutors has eased the burden of college. She is now focused on her dream of becoming a dentist.

“I would say the biggest things that have helped me are the MetroCards, the book vouchers and the tutors,” Quinones said. “Without ASAP, I don’t think there was any way that I could be in college full time.”

The nation’s community colleges enroll more than 6 million students and are educational gateways to promising future careers or four-year colleges offering bachelor’s degrees. However, nationally, the three year urban community college graduation rate is 15 percent.

At CUNY, the three-year graduation rate for freshmen in associate programs is 17 percent. For CUNY students enrolled in ASAP, the three-year graduation rate increased to 57 percent in 2014.

CUNY’s bold strategy includes expansion of two proven programs that bolster student skills, proficiency and support at different stages leading into and during enrollment in the University’s associate programs: ASAP and CUNY Start — a pre-college program that provides intensive reading and math help to students lacking proficiency skills.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the CUNY plan is the transformation of Bronx Community College into an all-ASAP campus, said Donna Linderman, University Dean for Student Success Initiatives and ASAP Executive Director.

“This undertaking has the potential of not only changing the lives of thousands of individual students but the future economic prospects of whole families and entire communities in the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough,” Linderman said.

In the college-wide ASAP expansion, Bronx Community College students will receive support services and financial resources designed to remove barriers to full-time study, build student resiliency and support timely graduation. Key program components include full-time enrollment, consolidated scheduling, cohort course taking, intensive advisement, career and employment services, tutoring, summer and winter course taking and the immediate and continuous addressing of any remedial needs. Financial resources include tuition waivers, MetroCards, and textbook vouchers.

For many students, like Jason Barbosa, who have been out of high school for several years, the ASAP program provided necessary support to succeed in college.

“I thought I was too old, that I was not smart enough,” said Barbosa of Bronx Community College. “I realize that ASAP is an every-kind-of-student program … it has been this family-like support that has kept me going and given me the motivation and confidence to make it to my graduation.”

The importance of earning a degree to compete in today’s job market was noted recently by President Barack Obama as part of a broader federal agenda for higher education.

“In the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as those requiring no college experience,” the president said in a speech at Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich.

For incoming CUNY students lacking proficiency skills, the University will expand CUNY Start and Summer Start — two pre-college programs that work in conjunction with ASAP.

CUNY Start, founded in 2009, provides 15 to 18 weeks of intensive preparation in academic reading/writing, math, and “college success” to students whose scores on the CUNY Assessment Tests indicate that they are in need of significant remediation. Students who enroll in the program temporarily delay starting degree-program studies to take this transitional program, allowing them to reserve financial aid for credit-bearing courses. CUNY Start will increase to 3,900 students at nine colleges this year.

CUNY Summer Start, a new intensive math immersion program for recent high school graduates, has achieved dramatic results, reporting that 92 percent of students emerge fully prepared for college-level math in just eight weeks.

Based on these impressive outcomes, the city has funded a major expansion of the CUNY Summer Start math program to 1,000 students by 2017 and 4,000 students by 2019, aiming to minimize remediation, help students get better grades in college and keep them on track to graduation.

In New York City, the need for providing basic proficiency skills is critical. Some 80 percent of freshmen entering CUNY community colleges have been assigned to at least one remedial course in math, reading or writing.

In July and August, CUNY offered Summer Start to 159 incoming freshmen at three colleges: Borough of Manhattan Community College, Guttman Community College and Hostos Community College. Summer Start students had been admitted to colleges, but the vast majority had both arithmetic and elementary algebra needs based on their CUNY Assessment Test scores.

With funding from the Petrie Foundation, CUNY Summer Start began in 2014 at BMCC with 50 students as a condensed version of the successful semester-long CUNY Start math program. Some 77 percent of students who completed CUNY Start’s math program have achieved proficiency. CUNY Summer Start was divided in two phases.

The first phase was six weeks long, four days a week, and five hours a day. Phase Two was two weeks long, five days a week, and five hours a day. Students had two opportunities to retake the CUNY Elementary Algebra Final Exam (CEAFE), once at the end of each phase. Students also received weekly MetroCards, which supported outstanding completion rates.

Students were taught by CUNY Start math teachers from across the University. Teachers were supported by in-class math tutors, who were former CUNY Start students who had successfully matriculated into CUNY degree programs. Students attended a weekly college advisement seminar.

In coming years, CUNY plans to train enough teachers so the program can eventually be offered year-round in eight-week cycles for both fall and spring entrants.

Linderman, University dean for student success initiatives, said:  “Through both programs — CUNY Start and CUNY Summer Start — CUNY could help thousands of students who might otherwise languish in longer developmental math sequences.”

About The City University of New York: The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves a record 275,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via, the University’s website.