Thursday, October 18

Student Thought: Special College Edition (The Posse Scholarship and Cash-For-Kids AP Style)

Today, I stayed home sick (somehow my back went out yesterday after a long School Leadership Team meeting), so I figured I'd be productive and write a post. A few days ago, I sent out my first college application so I am a little "college-on-the-brain"ed. It looks like other people are too.

In September, Deborah Bial, the founder of the Posse Foundation, won a MacArthur "genius grant" of $500,000. I have a lot of friends who are currently going through the Posse process and they are really working hard so that if they win they could end up at the one of the great schools that Posse is connected to. Posse is a pretty innovative way to encourage students from NYC to go to and succeed in college. Its strategy is sending students in groups, or posses, of about ten students to one college where they would be more comfortable and eager to continue because they come into the school with a built-in posse.

Another interesting strategy for getting kids to go to and succeed in college was announced last week.

Though controversial, the plan would give students up to $1,000 for scoring well on an Advanced Placement exam. As some of you may remember, my fellow students and I were a bit uncomfortable with Opportunity NYC; however, I'm kind of into this new plan.

Studies have shown that students who take AP courses are more likely to succeed in college. Then, you ask, why doesn't every student take AP courses? In my experience students refrain from taking AP courses for several reasons:

1) Their school doesn't offer the AP course they're interested in.
2) They have a time-consuming job and can't bear the extra work.
3) They don't see college as a real option.
Seems to me that this program could alleviate those problems. It could encourage schools to offer more AP courses through the extra funding they'd receive. It could make taking an AP course more accessible for students who need the money. And it could encourage more students to pursue a college education, now that they have some idea of what a college course looks like.

The reason I prefer this program to Opportunity NYC is that this uses the cash-for-kids formula to promote the idea of going to college and to give students the abilities to succeed. Even though both problems draw similar criticisms, I feel that Opportunity NYC was more of an end in itself and didn't work to promote future plans so much.

Do I contradict myself? Just a little? Okay then, I contradict myself. This is the New York City public school system. There's a lot going on.

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