New partnership on the horizon
College courses for high school students
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 25, 2012 | 5240 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LEAPING INTO THE FUTURE -- Senior Hector Rosero, junior Anissa Rago, and junior Amanda Cabrera are three of the many Leap students that are taking advantage of taking college courses while in high school.
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North Bergen High School (NBHS) students can now earn college credits through Hudson County Community College’s (HCCC) Project Leap. Currently the courses taught are psychology, college algebra, and college composition. They are taught after school and the credits earned by students are fully transferable at half the cost.

Leaping for success

The Leap program is for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Students must pass a college placement test or have high scores on the SAT. Students with SAT verbal or mathematical scores of 530 are considered college-ready for the Leap program. Each student must also complete the HCCC Leap admissions application which is submitted to the Leap Coordinator Timia Ligion and passed onto the Office of Enrollment Services.

NBHS Director of Student Personnel Allen Pascual found out about the program when he attended the HCCC Open House.

“It will help the high school student ease into college life,” said Leap coordinator Timia Ligion. “We’re really glad to have this new partnership with North Bergen High School. We feel really vested in our community that we’re able to help provide a bright future for the students and Hudson County.”

The Project Leap pamphlet states they encourage more students to pursue college degrees, career opportunities, and reduce the time and cost of earning such degrees.
“It’s the ability for high school students to leap into college.” – NBHS Director of Student Personnel Allen Pascual
Each three credit class costs $169.75, which is half the tuition. Students are also given a college I.D. that will allow them to make use of the HCCC’s North Hudson Higher Education Center located at 4800 Kennedy Blvd. in Union City. Students will be able to access their HCCC records and grades through the college’s portal site,

“Student loan debt is a serious problem that affects millions of young people, and that’s one of the reasons why programs like Leap are so beneficial,” said Superintendent Robert Dandorph in a press release. “Students are able to accumulate college credits early on, saving them thousands of dollars while also enriching their educational experience.”

Currently there are 60 students in the Leap program, which began in September. Surveys were conducted to determine the classes that students wanted. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday at the high school from 6 to 8:45 p.m. which will change as of next semester. Classes for the spring semester will be held at HCCC’s North Hudson Higher Education Center. No transportation will be provided for the students.

“These are hard working students that want to go college and see the benefit of taking these classes now,” said Pascual.

Additional classes will be offered next semester that begins Jan. 28. The Leap Program has well over 100 students with the 42 new students for next semester. The additional courses to be offered are: College Composition II, Precalculus, and Developmental Psychology I that will be follow-up courses. Deadlines for the coming semester have already been met. For further information students can contact their guidance counselor for information on the fall 2013 semester or Leap Coordinator Timia Ligion at (201) 360-5331.

“Taking these classes gives our students an early glimpse at the rigors of college academics and what will be expected of them,” said Pascual in a press release.

Leap stands for learning enables all possibilities.

Leaps and bounds

Students get a glimpse of what college has in store for them before graduation. Junior Amanda Cabrera who is taking the psychology course said that it’s easier taking college classes in high school versus waiting to graduate and enter college. The class is ideal for Cabrera who wants to become a school psychologist.

Students are aware of saving their families money.

“It’s so much better for my family to save money,” said Junior Anissa Rago, who is also taking psychology and wants to be a guidance counselor or elementary school teacher.

Professors who teach the courses don’t give students any special treatment since they are high school students.

“The way the professors treat (students) is definitely different than a high school class because they expect so much more from (students),” said Rago.

“It opens up your mind to new learning styles, more discussion-based, and the college teachers actually treat us like college students,” said Senior Hector Rosero, who is taking psycholosy and college composition and wants to study political science. “The teachers provide you with the tools you need to be successful in the class.”

Future prospects

Pascual would like to align the AP courses provided at the high school with HCCC’s courses which would be a dual credit program. Unlike the Leap Program, this will allow students to gain college credits within their own classrooms and will be required to take midterms as well as a final exam. This dual credit program may be implemented as early as next year.

Vanessa Cruz can be reached at

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