CUNY Admissions Plan Requires Core Coursework

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The trustees of the nation's largest urban university last week approved a plan that will require incoming first-year students to complete 16 core high-school courses or to take those courses on the collegiate level after admittance.

While reaffirming their commitment to admitting students regardless of their academic standing, the trustees of the City University of New York unanimously adopted the plan, called the College Preparatory Initiative.

The chancellor of the CUNY system, W. Ann Reynolds, introduced the plan and worked with Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez of the New York City schools and others in developing it.

The initiative closely ties elementary and secondary education to higher education, Ms. Reynolds said, and the higher expectations it sets will result in higher levels of academic performance.

"There is a demonstrated relationship between the completion of academic courses and subsequent success in college,'' she said.

In a memo to CUNY trustees before the vote, Mr. Fernandez expressed his support for the new requirements, saying the plan "complements a series of efforts presently under way at high schools throughout the city, particularly our efforts to improve instruction in mathematics, sciences, and foreign language.''

"This is the measure that will encourage students to undertake the challenge of a more demanding curriculum and secure a successful transition from high school to college,'' Chancellor Fernandez said.

Phasing in Requirements

CUNY has long provided a chance at upward mobility for New York City's disadvantaged students. More than 200,000 students, most of them from low-income or minority backgrounds, are now enrolled.

Currently, students who have graduated from a city high school are admitted, regardless of academic standing, to one of CUNY's seven community colleges. Students with school averages of 80 or greater are admitted to one of the university's nine senior colleges.

According to CUNY officials, the new standards will not inhibit public-school students from attending the university, because those who do not meet the standards will be able to take courses for college credit in their deficient areas.

But increasing the number of city students who meet the requirements before enrolling in CUNY could require a formidable effort.

Of the 25,916 diplomas the city schools issued during the 1990-91 school year, a spokesman for Mr. Fernandez said, 6,431 were Regents' diplomas, indicating that the students had completed a college-preparatory curriculum.

Under the new plan, students entering CUNY will be required to take four years of English, three years of mathematics, four years of social studies, two years of natural science, two years of foreign language, and one year of fine or performing arts.

In the fall of 1993, students pursuing bachelor's degrees must have completed 11 core units in high school. Every two years, the unit component will be increased by 2 until the 16-unit requirement is reached.

As chancellor of the California State University System in the 1980's, Ms. Reynolds oversaw the successful introduction of toughened admission standards. CUNY is one of numerous other colleges and universities that have raised their admissions standards in recent years. (See Education Week, May 15, 1991.)

Vol. 11, Issue 33, Page 11

Published in Print: May 6, 1992, as CUNY Admissions Plan Requires Core Coursework
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