College Now, A Launchpad To University

Ty Wong, Staff Writer

It’s not easy applying to college. You have to set up Naviance and College Board accounts, create a resume, write a college essay, get letters of recommendation, and research which schools match your interests. Different students take different paths to prepare for the process: some hire a counselor or a consultant to give feedback on their essays; others meet with students attending university to gain insight into the process. Alternatively, a student might get a leg up on the application game by enrolling in College Now, a program that provides college-level courses to students interested in getting familiar with what the college experience is like while also building up their high school resumes. 

Some College Now veterans find these courses beneficial but also difficult given that they happen side by side with the school year. “I wanted more challenges and to learn a subject that was not provided by the school,” says Elijah Weiss, a junior and a participant of the program who has taken a music and technology course. “It was challenging to balance the workload of the program and the work from school.”

But an advantage for the participants of College Now is that they can learn about topics they might never see in a high school classroom. Some of these courses are more rigorous than others. “In the speech course I learned how to feel invested in [my] own work and to be passionate about what [I was] doing when giving a presentation,” says Jonathan Franco, a senior and a College Now alum. He also took a course in Personal Finance. “Speech was easy because I only had to write an essay. Personal Finance was a different story. The material was hard and we had tests and a case study.” However, Jonathan also believes that College Now, despite the many requirements to get in, offers students advantages once they actually enroll at university. For example, he will have fewer credits to complete and thus fewer fees to pay once he attends school in the fall. Franco looks forward to “hav[ing] less debt in college.”

The MBHS college counselors also see that students enrolled in College Now are putting themselves in a strong position to succeed in college. “When I work with students [that are in College Now], it’s clear to me that they have a sense of what a college classroom is like, in terms of expectation, the workload, the style the courses are taught in, which I think are pretty different than high school,” says Ms. Mott. Further, Ms. Gibbons believes that College Now will make universities see “a student’s willingness to take college-level classes,” thus improving their likelihood of being accepted.

Millennium students have gained an edge by accessing courses through this program for close a decade. But none of this would have been possible if CUNY didn’t reach out to guidance counselor Ms. Schwarzkopf via email in the fall of 2013. “Students have done very well in these courses and it’s free,” says Ms. Schwarzkopf. MBHS students have benefited from access to these classes ever since, even enrolling during remote learning. “It’s also a good way to get exposed to other subjects that we don’t offer at Millennium.” Further, Schwarzkopf believes that exposing students to college-level courses will help them “get better grades in college because of the [high-level curriculum they are exposed to through] credits they earn.”

This Spring, students had access to courses including Forensic Anthropology, Introduction to Puerto Rican and Latino Studies, and Fundamentals of Nutrition, offered both on weekdays and weekends. Courses were offered remotely and others in-person.

Applying to college can be very stressful. The biggest pressure of all is to differentiate yourself in the eyes of a college admissions officer. Luckily with this program, Millennium students applying to college can show that they are ready for university thanks to their exposure to college-level courses. Those who have completed College Now courses will be ahead of the game upon entering university with college-level credits already earned.