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A Taste of College Life

March 3, 2011

Located in Harlem is the Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center—MEOC, for short—a school that provides a variety of educational and training services, such as GED Prep, College Prep, Academic Prep, English as a Second Language (ESL) and more—to eligible students.

Administered by BMCC since its inception in 1966 by the State University of New York, MEOC graduates have worked in a variety of fields, including commerce and governmental service, directly after their training at the MEOC, or after they received a college degree.

“MEOC is part of the BMCC family” says Erwin Wong, BMCC’s Dean of Academic Affairs. “Part of their mission is to help students become college-ready, and we at BMCC support them in that, giving MEOC students an opportunity to see firsthand what college life is like.”

And, with that being said, BMCC warmly welcomed a group of 20 students from MEOC who recently toured the college with MEOC’s Eric Neutuch, Coordinator, Strategic College Initiatives.

Opening panel discussion

Neutuch teaches the College Knowledge course at the MEOC. He chaperoned students on a special visit to the BMCC campus, which he affectionately called “BMCC Day.”

First, the students gathered in the Hudson Room, for a morning panel discussion. The panelists, who received MEOC bags as a thank you for their participation, were Sondra Salley of the College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment (COPE) program, Professor Vanessa Rozzelle of College Discovery, and Lindsay Touissant and Clifford Salmon of the Learning Resource Center (LRC).

“Many of you write in your classroom journals, ‘I want to go to college’,” said Neutuch to his students. “Today’s panelists will explain how you can go to college and be successful once you’re there.”

Salley advised students to start the “process of elimination” when it comes to selecting a career path. “In life, don’t be afraid to grow as you go,” she said. “Know what kind of learner you are.”

The College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment (COPE) Program addresses the needs of individuals who meet specific income guidelines to reduce student barriers to education and employment.

Salley reassured the visiting students that COPE “provides students with whatever is needed to help them succeed at BMCC.”

Take advantage of tutoring

Professor Vanessa Rozzelle of College Discovery (CD), explained the program to MEOC students. “We offer one-on-one tutoring and have counselors available to you, who are committed to your success, and want to see you graduate,” she said.

Funded by New York State for financially and educationally disadvantaged students, students who are in the CD program may receive money for books and fees, which do not have to be repaid. CD students also receive additional counseling and tutorial services through the Department of Student Life.

Clifford Salmon of the Learning Resource Center, talked about E-learning, an interactive online program that allows students to engage in class participating via the Internet.

His colleague, Lindsay Touissant, a supervisor at the Learning Resource Center, highlighted the tutoring options available for students at BMCC seeking academic assistance.

“You have help at BMCC—we’re here to give you that second chance you may need, academically,” she said. “Thanks to help from the LRC, I myself graduated from BMCC with a great GPA and went on to a 4-year school.”

Scavenger hunt

Neutuch then had some exciting news for his MEOC students—they were going to participate in a scavenger hunt around BMCC’s main campus.

He explained how the main campus was geographically laid-out, and told the students to pair off.

The rationale of the scavenger hunt was to provide a fun way for students to explore BMCC while raising awareness of how to navigate the college’s academic and support services, and included questions such as: What are the Monday through Thursday hours of the Early Childhood Center?

MEOC student Brett Toney was one of the scavenger hunt winners, returning to the Hudson Room with his teammate in just under 20 minutes. “I have a good sense of direction,” he said. “It feels great to win…no…exhilarating.”

The prize for winning? Notebooks and folders from the BMCC bookstore.

Classroom visits

In the afternoon session, after lunch from the BMCC cafeteria, MEOC students visited classrooms. They were invited to sit in on the following courses: Acting I, English Literature, Elementary Algebra or Introduction to Marketing.

The classroom visits, facilitated by Dean Erwin Wong “give MEOC students an opportunity to see first-hand what a college classroom is like, and what type of work is expected from BMCC students,” he said.

Praise for BMCC

“During the classroom visits, many of the MEOC students could imagine themselves as successful college students,” said Neutuch. “This was more than just a traditional college visit. It had emotional power for these students. Some of them told me they now want to apply to BMCC and are ready to ‘do it’—be a college student, adapt to college life.”

Ricci Niles, a BMCC student and MEOC alum, visited with the MEOC students during the morning session.

Niles said that MEOC “got me back into the routine of being a student again, as an adult.”

According to Niles, BMCC professors are “emotionally invested” in their students.

“They challenge you to go beyond your limits. I promise I’m not just saying that! There are wonderful resources here at BMCC and I encourage you to take advantage of each of them.”

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • MEOC students take classes that prepare them for college life
  • Students consider BMCC as next academic step
  • Scavenger hunt, classroom visits and panel discussions introduce students to BMCC community

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