Helping students graduate fast

ASAP program at CUNY
March 28, 2008 4:22:53 PM PDT
Juggling a family, a job and college can be tough.But a new program is helping some community college students with those issues. So they get their degree as quickly as possible.

Eyewitness News education reporter Art McFarland has more.

"You're going to watch TV for three minutes without sound, and you're going to tell me what these people are doing," a professor told his students in class.

The subject is non-verbal communication, in a class at Bronx Community College. The hand-picked students have high expectations for the future.

"With all the support that they're giving us, there's no way we can not succeed," student Aniqa Zurgham said.

The students belong to the ASAP program, offered at six community colleges of the City University of New York. The 100 ASAP students at Bronx CC are among 1,000 citywide.

"I've received great benefits with textbooks, Metrocard and a laptop, which is loaned to us," student Chanda Mohan said.

The laptops, textbooks and monthly Metrocards amount to several thousand in benefits for each student.

The majority, based on income, are also not required to pay tuition, which is typically $1,400 per semester for full-time students.

"Basically, all the incentives that they offer set me up so I don't fail," student Luis Fuentes said. "All I have to do is fulfill my end of the bargain."

Nationwide, only about 20 percent of community college students graduate, mainly due to life's demands on their time.

The ASAP program is designed not only to raise the graduation rate among them in the city, but to help them do it faster.

The program is considered part of the city's anti-poverty program.

The ASAP students were chosen based on their high school records and for their potential. They also get unlimited tutoring, personal counseling and class schedules to fit their busy lives.

"We might be able to get them into jobs, but also move them on to a four-year college, where they can get a higher degree and get an even better job," program director Dr. John Davis said.

The program is funded at $20 million for three years. If it works, it could be extended.

For more information on the ASAP program, click here.