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Graduating High School at 17, with 60 College Credits: Why Isn’t this Opportunity Offered at Every High School?



I am always thrilled to share with people that I was able to graduate high school at the tender age of 17 with 60 college credits under my belt. However, I am always disheartened when hearing that people were never given or even told that an opportunity I greatly benefited from was not readily available at their secondary institution. 

According to an NYC Service article, “Today, about 6,000 students are enrolled in 12 early college schools, each of which is partnered with one of the undergraduate colleges at the City University of New York (CUNY).” With over 100,000 New York City students enrolled in high school, knowing that only 6,000 students are enrolled in early college schools is preposterous. Unfortunately, many of these early college students are not located within the neighborhoods that are actually in need of these opportunities. We talk so much about food deserts, but have we ever thought about institutional deserts? 

According to a CUNY website, “College Now is a dual enrollment program embedded in 18 CUNY colleges and over 400 NYC high schools and enrolling over 20,000 students annually. The maximum number of credits a student can earn through College Now is 12 college credits.” Luckily, the College Now Program is a more publicized and utilized program, but the amount of credits that you can graduate with are drastically lower and come with stipulations–students only receive credit, if they obtain a grade ‘B’ or higher in each class. Further, critics may say that Advanced Placement (AP) courses are accessible in all schools, but if we examine statistics, approximately 12.5% of NYC students earned ‘5’s,  while 18.6% earned ‘4’s on their AP exams. Let us not forget that students can only receive college credit from AP courses if they receive 4’s and 5’s, so if 31.1 percent of students receive appropriate scores and credits, that still leaves over 68.9 percent of them without credits. 

Ultimately, we must put in place equitable programs for all students. Not all students can obtain ‘B’s or higher, let alone ‘4’s and ‘5’s on AP exams, but students may still want to expedite their college careers by obtaining credits in high school. Altogether, we must examine the needs of students! Students who are economically disadvantaged and, with some being food and housing insecure, often attend schools within their neighborhoods that do not have these opportunities and resources readily available. So let us try and examine how we can bring programs such as these to schools within impoverished neighborhoods and also try to shift systems and protocols that can meet all students where they are at.

Clementina Jose attends the Hunter Silberman School of Social Work, where she is pursuing a Masters in Social Work (MSW) at 21. Clementina is currently a second-year student and has a concentration in clinical practice with individuals and families.