College Advantage Program Thrives Amid COVID-19 Challenges
For high school juniors and seniors, 2020 was anything but a typical year. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have faced the ‘new normal’ of distance learning, hybrid models, and uncertainty over how long each will last.
In these difficult times, St. John’s University strives to provide a continuum of service to all students, including the record number of over 5,300 high school and senior students enrolled in its successful program. College Advantage Program (CAP).
The CAP, which allows qualified high school juniors and seniors to take credit courses in St. John’s in English, mathematics, languages, fine arts, sciences and humanities, has seen an increase in student enrollment compared to l ‘previous year despite the pandemic, according to program director Cecelia M. Russo.
“Students always want to learn, and the CAP provides a great opportunity to get a head start in college for less,” she observed.
Similar to their academic counterparts, CAP students quickly shifted to distance learning and hybrid models (i.e. a combination of in-person and distance learning) as the pandemic took hold. is installed in March. “The teachers really did an amazing job,” noted Ms. Russo.
The program, established in 1976 and originally known as the High School Extension, was born out of requests from high school administrators to provide academic encouragement to their seniors and a jump into college courses. Originally, only two schools offered registration to their qualified juniors and seniors. Today, CAP benefits from articulation agreements with more than 150 secondary schools in the five boroughs, as well as in the counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.
The CAP offers qualifying juniors and seniors the opportunity to simultaneously enroll in high school courses and St. John’s credit courses for $ 325 per course, a significant reduction from undergraduate tuition fees. College Advantage students who enroll at St. John’s University the semester following graduation from high school also receive a tuition scholarship of $ 3,000 per year.
Applications from CAP students in St. John’s have grown steadily over the past three years: 1,849 students applied in the fall of 2018, and there were 1,872 and 2,110 applications in the following years.
William C. Anderson is a Curriculum Associate for grades K-12 in the Department of World Languages and English as a New Language in the Massapequa school district. He applauds the CAP program for several reasons. “The students at Massapequa High School really benefit from the College Advantage program,” he said. “Not only are tuition fees greatly reduced, but world language courses are at the 200 level. Students and parents are excited to have the opportunity to get inexpensive credits before graduation.
“CAP offers our students the possibility of obtaining a significant number of university credits while being in high school,” observed Darius J. Penikas’ 19Ed.D., director of Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens.
“It encourages our students to go beyond the core high school curriculum and get a head start on their academic careers. Our students deepen the academic areas that interest them and take their studies to the next level. St. John’s has been an enthusiastic and innovative partner in helping to create these new and exciting possibilities.
Laurent V. Musanti, director of Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island, NY, noted that his school had been involved in the program for over 20 years. “Our students benefit greatly from their participation in CAP,” he said. “Since the programs for all classes have been approved by the university departments of St. John’s, our young people have confidence that what they are being taught is really at the college level. For some it is an eye-opening experience and serves as an introduction to what is expected of them in college. “
“For many years, the College Advantage program at St. John’s University has strived to help motivated high school students take the next step in their academic journey while providing them with financial support and the same quality of education. ‘education enjoyed by our enrolled students,’ said Jorge L. Rodriguez, vice-rector and head of registrations.
“Like so many other programs, CAP faced its share of challenges in 2020, but instructors, whose credentials and lesson plans have been approved by department directors in St. John’s, have been up to the task, ”he continued. “They have adapted to all the models necessary to ensure that our students do not miss out on any of the great benefits offered by this program.”