3rd graders take part in "College Now"

February 19, 2010 3:12:11 PM PST
It is something that third graders and college students have in common, the new "College Now" program at Bergen Community College."Part of the mission is to plant a seed in the children's head that they too can go to college," explained Shari Horowitz, the program's director.

Twice a week, select third graders go on campus for one-on-one sessions with college students, who volunteer as mentors.

Kids say their mentors are fun to work with, while the mentors say it feels good to help the students out.

"I help her with her work, you know, and I feel like I'm part of her life and I'm helping her out," said Noreen Murphy, a mentor.

They do their homework, and study a web-based language arts program.

There are academic classes including math and dance.

On the day Eyewitness News visited, there was a lesson in Hip-hop dancing.

They are third graders, so it may be they enjoy this kind of activity at least as much as doing homework or going to other classes, but the program is meant to associate learning and fun with the idea of going to college.

It's actually like you're in real college, except you don't have to do as much work. You do schoolwork," said Zachary Loonam, a student in the program.

Program administrators say third grade is a critical learning stage in a child's life.

"In the four months that we have been operating, more than half of the children have increased their baseline scores in the third grade reading level by more than 50%," said Horowitz.

These students will remain in the program through 8th grade, with follow-up counseling to make sure they are on the road to college.