Community Colleges

CUNY Rethinks the Community College

January 26, 2009

The City University of New York has dreamed up the community college of the future. Only 5,000 students, all of whom would attend full time. A rigorous course of mathematics and literacy classes. And a set of majors limited to those with the most promising job opportunities.

The imagined institution is at least two years away from opening, according to a description in The New York Times — and that’s assuming the cash-strapped city and state find the money.

If the college does eventually open, it would look radically different from the other community colleges in the CUNY system and across the country. It would have limited enrollment at a time when New York’s other two-year colleges are growing rapidly. The idea, according to the Times’s article, is for students at the new college to have convenient block schedules and more individual attention. The goal is to get more of them to complete their associate degrees within three years.

The blueprint for the college is based in large part on the system’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, which provides convenient schedules and extra support for more than 1,000 students. The goal of that pilot program is to graduate half the students within three years.

The ASAP program accepted only students who could start in college-level courses. The new college, by contrast, would take all students with high-school diplomas or GED’s, no matter their skill level. However, students would be required to attend a four- to six-week summer orientation, which would include remedial work for those who needed it. —Elyse Ashburn