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The Six-Year Solution

September 12, 2014

While on a tour of the BMCC campus on the second day of classes, 14-year-old high school freshman Cindy Coles was impressed by the classrooms (“really nice and extremely well-organized”) and the study labs (“a great place to study, since I’m a person of quietness”).

But it was the library that got her pulse racing.

“I’m a huge reader and the library is amazing,” she says. “I know I’ll be spending a lot of time there.”

The high school Cindy attends departs from the standard four-year model. It’s called the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA), and by the time students complete the six- (not four-year) course, they will have earned both a high school diploma and an associate degree from BMCC, and gained significant work experience in advertising and media.

A tale of two campuses

First-year MECA students take all their classes in the MECA building at 411 Pearl Street: They begin taking college courses on the BMCC campus as early as 10th grade. 

Students engage in work-based learning experiences—site visits, job shadowing, special seminars and internships—and are paired with a mentor who guides them throughout the program.

One more thing: All tuition and book costs are waived.

MECA is a partnership involving the New York City Department of Education, CUNY and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, with BMCC playing a lead role.

"It's a privilege to be part of this incredibly exciting and innovative program that links secondary and higher education and professional workforce training," says BMCC president Antonio Pérez.

Ninety-two students are taking part in this, the program's inaugural year. A second cohort of students will arrive next fall.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for BMCC as well as for the MECA students," says Karrin Wilks, Senior Vice President and Provost of BMCC.

"It speaks to our commitment to promoting student success and accelerating the time to degree attainment."

Adds Associate Dean Michael Gillespie, "MECA is one of the most innovative approaches to education to come down the pike in a very long time. And having the entire MECA class on campus at the very beginning of a new school year is truly a blessing."

BMCC's guiding hand

According to MECA Principal Dr. Matthew Tossman, BMCC has been an integral part of MECA's design and development—"everything from course offerings, scope and sequence to the majors students can pursue."

Majors include business, and media arts & technology. Cindy Coles figures she'll probably opt for the latter.

"I want to be a video game designer someday," she says. Classmate Christopher Trueblood's plans are less specific.

"I want to do something creative," he says. "BMCC looks like a great place to do that."

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Students tour campus on second day of the academic year
  • Innovative program links secondary and post-secondary education
  • Participants prepare for careers in advertising and media

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