What's Free or Cheap in NYC?
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See also Ongoing Education - Step 10 of the Ten Steps to Successful Homeschooling and About College.
CUNY has a scholarship program called “College Now” geared for junior and senior high school students, although 9th and 10th graders may also be eligible for certain workshops. Each borough has a community college campus as well as a senior college campus and other branches as well, comprising a total of seventeen colleges in NYC participating in this program. See the list of colleges and the contact info at each campus.
Entry into the CUNY precollege program requires either a grade of 75 on the English and Math Regents or a 480 on the English and math portions of the SAT or a 50 on the PSAT; an ACT score may be acceptable also. Lower scores might stillmake a student eligible for community colleges. Non-credit preparatory courses and workshops are offered to help students become eligible for the program. Private school students are not eligible, so current Board of Ed. paperwork stating the student’s grade level and proving the student is legally homeschooled under the NYC Board of Ed. regulations is necessary.
When my oldest son attended this program five years ago we paid no fees whatsoever, and were given an additional $75.00 book allowance at the bookstore. My son lacked an SAT score, so he took a free CUNY entrance exam, their version of the ACT exam. My son was encouraged to meet with department heads to inquire about courses. By visiting these offices he received permission to take courses beyond the introductory level. He ended up taking 2nd and 3rd-year-level college courses while a high school junior and senior. My son also enjoyed using the arts facilities and attending college performances on campus. It gave him confidence to experience campus life while still homeschooling.
CUNY includes Hunter College, Baruch College (business), John Jay College (criminal justice), Brooklyn College, etc., all offering a huge variety of courses.
A homeschooling parent offers tips about the College Now program:
It appears that each CUNY college has their own policy about homeschool students. City College has their policy on their website, stating that students need to be in spring of 10th grade, and have either a PSAT, SAT or Regents English test score above a certain number plus a certain grade point average in order to qualify.
My daughter was just entering 10th grade and we didn't have any of those tests. The director suggested that she take the Bridge for College Writing class, which is technically for sophomores whose scores are lower than the limit for College Now, and it is a high school credit class. If they get an A or B, they are automatically accepted into College Now for the following semester. Since my daughter is a terrible test taker, and I wanted her to get some real-classroom experience, I enrolled her in the Bridge for College Writing and she got an A. It was very hard for her, she wasn't used to a lot of homework that was due weekly, and test taking, but it was a great experience and I really liked the multi-cultural reading assignments since we are multi-racial family. She was then automatically allowed to take CN classes starting in the spring semester of her 10th grade.
There are other homeschool families that have enrolled their kids in CN at other CUNY colleges and it seems that each school has their own set of rules.
It might help to understand that the mission of College Now is to help high performing students in underserved high schools get ready for college and give them some college credits. Typically, each CUNY has a partnership with high schools that fit the "underserved" definition.
It is not a "Right" of homeschoolers to think that they automatically deserve to be in whatever CN program they chose. I took the attitude of "it would be such a benefit to my daughter if she could get some real-classroom, college skills to better prepare her for college." They were receptive and helpful to me, although I did most of the follow-ups.
Another thing — there have been serious cutbacks in both course offerings and administrative staff so the CN program at City College does not offer nearly as much as it did three years ago.
More about College Now
College Now at CUNY offers free college courses to NYC public high school juniors and seniors, including homeschoolers. See College Credit Courses and eligibility requirements.
You need an SAT, ACT or PSAT score in order to take classes for credits. A 480 (in English) or 530 (in math) are the minimum SAT scores needed (not too difficult to get out of a possible 800). Registration dates for the SAT.
Homeschooling parents, whose kids have taken courses through College Now, say that it's best to approach individual campuses and not just rely on the website.
Comments: The staff at BMCC are helpful, kind, and prompt in all their replies. Many homeschooling parents recommended the biology department there. On their website, biology was not listed as a course offered in College Now, but after speaking to them it appears that they are going to allow our daughter to enroll in a biology lecture and lab. I encourage you to speak with the directors of the College Now program at each school to see what they might be able to offer you. To apply, an application, test scores, teacher recommendation (if you don't have Regent scores) are required. Do this sooner rather than later. ~ homeschooling parent
For accurate course offerings, don't rely on the College Now website. It is better to contact the colleges individually for course. Here is a partial list of CUNY colleges with links, contact info and the College Now contact person (where available):
Columbia University, an Ivy League campus on the upper west side, allows any high school student to take a course that is not offered at his or her school. For homeschoolers that means everything! But you have to qualify for Columbia’s high standards, and the courses are expensive. Their high school science honors program, however, is free. Classes, for 10th, 11th and 12th grade honors students, Saturdays 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., September - May, offer everything from neurobiology to quantum theory. A Columbia U. entrance exam is necessary.
For information about applying as a homeschooler, contact Professor Allan Blaer at the Science Honors Program at (212) 854-3354.
The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, at 82 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003, offers a highly competitive precollege art program at the Steinhardt School of NYU is free (there is another version that is expensive), and has a limited enrollment. Saturday art workshops can lead to a summer program called Visionary Studio: Summer All Access. Both are open to high school students entering their junior or senior year and planning to attend an art college. The summer program is limited to 15 young artists from the tri-state area, the application requires 10-15 images to be submitted along with a few short essays and a letter of recommendation from an art teacher. All materials are provided for accepted students! This is a very competitive program with hundreds of kids applying for the 15 spots. The 4-week summer program culminates with a month-long exhibit in The Commons gallery, the main gallery at Steinhardt. On the last night, recruiters from various art schools from around the country attend, look at the work and speak to the kids and parents individually. The kids rotate classes in sculpture, digital, drawing and painting plus field trips to galleries and museum and lectures by visiting artists. The day runs from 9:30 to 5:00 with extra studio time in the evening for anyone who wants it. The Saturday program is the precursor to the summer programs with the free All Access/Visionary Studio program being the most competitive pre-college program that they offer.
In Brooklyn, Polytechnic University offers a precollege science and engineering program for high school students at the Center for Youth in Engineering and Science (YES). Courses require only a registration fee. Applications for fall are due by the first week of September, for spring are due by mid-January. Their campus is open to visitors M-F, 9-5, and they will waive their in-person application fee if you visit. In the past they have encouraged homeschoolers to apply for credit-earning courses and to seek scholarships. For more info you can contact Beverly Johnson in their Center for Youth in Engineering and Science at (718) 260-3033.