Graduates of Bard High School Early College Queens often tell counselor Lenni Yesner that it was the opportunities they had to take advanced courses in high school that helped them be successful in college.

Of the school’s 64 graduates of the classes of 2012 and 2013 who went on to New York colleges and participated in the Tuition Assistance Program, 84% graduated on-time and 91% graduated within six years – making Bard one of the state’s top-performers. Forty-eight percent of Bard’s students were low-income during that period.

As an Early College High School, all Bard students graduate with enough credits to earn an Associate’s degree.

That means that at Bard, the junior year of high school is like their first year of college, when students start taking advanced and college-level courses.

“By the time they get to college, they’ve already taken that higher level of coursework,” said Yesner, director of the school’s College Transfer Office.

Along with one-on-one guidance from a college advisor, students also participate in a small-group class starting their junior year where they receive additional support from a guidance counselor or teacher. They spend one period a week learning about the college admissions process and receiving help on things such as filling out applications and completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

“It starts with taking them through thinking about their interests, and then thinking about what schools might be good fits for them,” Yesner said. “It’s an iterative process. You think about yourself, and then you think about college, and then you think of how those two things connect.”

Ed Trust–NY is periodically highlighting how high schools and school districts across New York help their graduates to and through college. Learn more at