How College Now Prepares Students
College Now is a free program designed to prepare New York City’s public high school students for success in college.
The College Now mission is to promote college awareness and strengthen the academic preparation of NYC public high school students by providing courses and activities aligned with first-year study at CUNY.
Experience (and research) has shown us that there is also another goal:
To help high school students see themselves as college students
If we want to be sure that students are ready to graduate from high school and move on to college-level work, we must see to it that they are academically strong. When students don’t do well in school, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the material is too hard. In fact, the opposite may be true; students often rise to a challenge. We want our courses to make students reach for understanding. In doing so, they will build their inner resources and their concrete academic skills.
Many high school students can do college work.
Careful Course Sequencing
Of course, we realize that not all students will be ready for college-level courses right away. For that reason, many of our programs have students take their courses in a specific order.
The following is a typical course sequence:
College Advisory Workshop → Pre-college Course or Gateway Course → College Credit Course
The pre-college and Gateway courses build in extra academic and social supports (“scaffolding”) to help students achieve their potential.
Interesting Subjects, Dedicated Teachers
Another way to strengthen academics is to teach students what they want to learn in relevant and engaging ways. We encourage our programs to design courses that have students do things and go places. We encourage our teachers to continue their own education by participating in ongoing staff development.
Sometimes the material really is too hard. Fortunately, most of our programs offer students access to college tutors and learning centers.
Sampling College Life
An important part of College Now’s mission is creating opportunities for high school students to experience college life. This experience might be limited—an afternoon poetry reading on a college campus, for example—or something considerably more involved, like enrolling in a college course alongside college undergraduates.
There are 2 major reasons that we encourage high school students to check out the physical, cultural, and academic aspects of college:
Opening Up to Possibility
Spending time on the campus or with college students can be exciting to high schoolers. They may see that there are things they can do with their lives that they never dreamed of. They can see others, like them, only a bit older, who are enjoying the commitment they’ve made to their futures. They can get a glimpse of the independence and respect for individuality that higher education offers. Hopefully, they will ultimately come to picture themselves as future college students.
Getting a Realistic Preview
More young Americans than ever are entering college. Unfortunately, they don’t all make it to graduation. Students drop out for lots of reasons, some of which are hard to control: illness, family obligations, financial strain.
But sometimes students struggle simply because they didn’t know what to expect beforehand and then just get overwhelmed. Getting some sense of college while still in high school should impress upon students the extent to which they are responsible for themselves in college. Of course, they should learn that colleges provide students with academic, social, and psychological support services as well.
Ways for College Now Students to Sample College Life
There are many ways for students to experience college life through College Now including:
- Campus orientation/tour
- Cultural event on campus (concert, film, play, poetry slam, etc.)
- Non-credit course offered on a college campus
- College-level course (even CN courses which meet at the high school must follow the academic standards and teaching methods established by college faculty.)
- Working with mentors or tutors who are themselves college students
- receiving a campus ID (most CN programs issue IDs which allow students to take advantage of campus sports, library, and computing facilities.)