Innovative Technology Program Helps High School Students Earn Their Diplomas—and College Credits

Advanced Tech at College serves to improve student retention and persistence and ultimately increase college graduation rates and job preparedness.

The program offers Philadelphia juniors and seniors the unique opportunity to take their remaining high school classes at the Main Campus—and earn college credits.

student at computer photo

Manya Blackson, 17, a senior at Bok Technical High School, and Maria Cabrera, 18, a senior at Thomas Edison High School, were among 24 students honored at the program’s graduation ceremony on June 13.

“I like the way the program brings high school students from all over the city into one group. Over time, we’ve all become like one big family,” said Blackson. “I also really like the college environment.”

Cabrera, who is from Ecuador, was excited her family members came to see her graduation. “It’s been a great opportunity,” she said of the program.

Students benefit from an integrated curriculum of enhanced academic and technical studies, as well as access to our resources, such as computer labs equipped with advanced technology, IT internships, counseling, tutoring and peer support. In their junior year of high school, students participate in internships at the College and at Philadelphia-based businesses and nonprofit organizations.

“The program also offers a lot of services, including extensive tutoring and a thorough orientation that includes team building exercises,” said Margaret Niven, assistant dean of the Division of Educational Support Services. “A college counselor also works with students one day a week,” she added.

Blackson is enrolled at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona Campus and will start as an Elementary and Kindergarten Education major this fall. She wants to return to Philadelphia as a teacher. Cabrera plans to attend the University of Scranton, where she will major in International Studies. “I want to become an international lawyer,” she said.

“Of the 24 graduates, 15 planned to start at Community College of Philadelphia this fall,” said Linda Hansell, Ph.D., the program’s director. “The other nine graduates will be going to other colleges and universities.”

All 30 juniors are committed to return for their senior year in fall 2007.

To qualify for the program, students must have at least a 2.5 grade point average, and they must have maintained an attendance of at least 90 percent in their freshmen and sophomore years. Students also must demonstrate an interest in technology.

Advanced Tech at College, which started in fall 2004, is a partnership between the College, the School District of Philadelphia and SEPTA. Funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information about Advanced Tech at College, call 215-751-8804 or e-mail

The Philadelphia Tech Prep Consortium Meeting the Need for Philadelphia’s High Priority Technical Occupations

The Philadelphia Tech Prep Consortium is a unique college preparation initiative that addresses the technical workforce needs of the Philadelphia region. Tech Prep is a dynamic partnership among Community College of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia and representatives from regional business and industry working together to create a focused sequence of advanced technical and academic courses for students interested in pursuing careers in technical fields.

“Eighty percent of all new jobs in the 21st century will require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree,” said Patricia Hecht, coordinator of Tech Prep.

Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Tech Prep is based on a 2 + 2 structure—at least two years of technical education in high school plus a technical associate’s degree, preparing students for employment and/or a four-year degree.

The current technical career clusters include automotive technology, allied health professions, culinary arts, business technology and information systems technology. Each program must coincide with a workforce need in Philadelphia.

By choosing a Tech Prep pathway, a student may be able to earn college credits while still in high school. Students also benefit from a variety of services, including career assessment/exploration, financial aid workshops, college tours, college student tutors/mentors, assistance transitioning from high school to college and into the workforce and retention support for postsecondary Tech Prep students. Tech Prep can provide work-based learning opportunities, such as co-ops, job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships.

Read more about our Advance Tech at College program by clicking on the following College press release