Bard offers local students head start on college

HUDSON–Students can get both high school and college credit simultaneously for the same courses in Bard’s Early College Program in Hudson.

Bard College, which has its main campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, started the Early College Program for high school students early last decade and opened its Hudson satellite last school year. It also has satellites in New York City, Newark, Cleveland and New Orleans. The Hudson program involves juniors and seniors from high schools across Columbia and Greene counties, said Michael Sadowski, executive director of the Hudson program and a member of Bard’s psychology and education faculty said in a conversation November 30.

This September, the Hudson program opened its second year of operation by moving three blocks to 364 Warren Street, across from the Presbyterian Church, near 4th Street. The program currently has 17 students: 10 seniors and 7 juniors. Eight are from the Hudson City School District, the others are from Germantown, Taconic Hills and two Greene County districts, Cairo-Durham and Coxsackie-Athens.

Students in the Hudson program start their day at their home high school and then come to 364 Warren Street for a Bard class from 11:45 to 1:30. They return to their home high school for extracurricular activities, Mr. Sadowski said. At Bard Hudson, they take two college courses—each two days a week—and a non-credit workshop on The College Experience one day a week. The students also go on field trips to Bard’s main campus in Annandale and receive Bard student ID cards.

Each college course earns the student three college credits per semester. With two semesters a year, that means 12 college credits a year plus whatever high school credits their home school gives them. Seniors also must undertake a capstone project for one college credit. The Bard program does not necessarily exempt the students from freshman introductory courses at the college of their choice, because the Early College courses are more like specialized upper-level courses. But most colleges have accepted the program’s credits.

“The most important thing is that the students develop confidence and know-how for college,” said Mr. Sadowski. Nationwide roughly half the students entering college earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. But for those who have taken Bard Early College the figure is over 90%, Mr. Sadowski said. Last year’s seniors from Bard’s Hudson program now attend college at SUNY Albany, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Purchase, Pace, and Mercy, among others. One told Mr. Sadowski that this year in college she is getting straight A’s.

A course required for all students in the Hudson program is a humanities seminar, where students explore approaches to “big” sociological, political and philosophical questions, by exposure to “a variety of texts.” For the second course, high school juniors take American History, which also fulfills a high school requirement. High school seniors have a choice of either American History or a course called Identity, Culture and the Classroom.

This year’s senior capstone theme is “Voices for Social Justice.” Mr. Sadowski teaches the capstone course, the Identity course at Bard-Hudson and a similar course at Bard’s main campus.

“We think the students this year are having a terrific experience,” he said. “They seem to enjoy each other. They bond intellectually and as friends,” and discussions in class get “lively.”

Mr. Sadowski praised the Warren Street building, saying, “It feels like a college. The students see this as a college space,” with one room designated as a student lounge. Mr. Sadowski expressed an inclination to stay at that location “for the foreseeable future.”

Meanwhile, he said, “We want to keep growing,” adding, “We want to get more high schools and more kids for the” Hudson program.

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