Now in its 100th year of operation, Plaza College opened its 50,000-square-foot Forest Hills campus nearly two years ago. In order to address a “growing epidemic” of students enrolling in college without fully understanding the ramifications, the college hopes to create a joint partnership to introduce college to high school students.
According to Charles Callahan IV, chief operating officer of Plaza College, high school students in the city often face pressure to stay on par with those who have better educational and resources internationally. One of the ways the college hopes to assist the students is by "turning student challenges into opportunities.”
“When the student gets here, they are treated like a college student,” Callahan said. “They get the responsibilities of a college student and they wear scrubs like a college student.”
The college’s Medical Scholars program was designed to give local students a “leg up” when it comes to college and career preparedness. They intend to establish partnerships with local high schools that could help identify the students’ skill sets and needs.
Thomas Edison High School in Jamaica has been partnering with Plaza College for a year. Currently, over 75 students, including 30 seniors, participate in the Medical Scholars program every Saturday throughout the semester.
“If you speak to any of our students, the one thing they will tell you is the relevance that they get from this place,” said Principal Moses Ojeda. “They could relate to what material is coming up in college, they can relate to the industry and the terminology,”
Students typically start the program during the second semester of their junior year. They learn how to balance the course along with their schoolwork and receive up to three college credits.
In their senior year, students will complete six more credits for a total of nine college credits. After high school graduation, students can enter an advanced eight-week summer program for six more credits, a total of 15 credits.
The program is free for the student. While Plaza College handles most of the funding for equipment and faculty, Thomas Edison High School provides the college textbooks for each student.
A similar program to Plaza College’s Medical Scholars program is the City University of New York (CUNY)’s CUNY Now program, which also offers high school students a chance to earn college credit.
The subjects are usually freshman-level and consist of developmental reading, writing, and math courses.
In comparison, the Medical Scholars program aligns its students with a prospective medical career path in an effort to “put something out in front of them that they can use and build upon,” Callahan added.
For schools with students looking to take a High School Equivalency Test, Dr. Patricia Mooney, regional liaison for the Education Department, Adult Education and Program Policy, explained the new process and eligibility requirements.
While taking the General Education Diploma (GED) test is no longer viable in New York State due to a lack of computer capacity for test takers, the TASC is available in both paper and online formats.
Mooney also spoke on matters such as the maximum compulsory age, which qualifies high school students to take the test after the school year in which they turn 16, and grandfathering in high school equivalency, in which students who have passing GED scores between 2002 and 2013 can get the High School Equivalency Diploma without taking the TASC.
Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman said that while it’s important to have students graduate, it’s also important to make sure that residents have the opportunity to take the test.
“A lot of communities don’t know that the tests have changed and they don’t know how to register,” Hyndman said. “It’s up to us to take the information back to the community and use it."