Does the Turning Point Program support students in transitioning to enrolling into a degree seeking program at Bergen Community College?
While it is the position of Turning Point to encourage intellectual curiosity and cultivate lifelong learning in our students, we do not consider the program to be a bridge to matriculating in a degree seeking program at the college. It is our hope that students will have attained competitive employment in their chosen field either during or shortly after graduating from the program. We have developed the Career Pathway Credentialing Courses to prepare students for entry into the workforce directly after completing the program. It is Turning Point’s position that enrolling in a rigorous and demanding degree seeking program at the College would contribute to a very stressful and often frustrating experience for a student with intellectual disability. Philosophically, we do not support matriculating in a degree program as a successful outcome for our students.
Is the program full time?
Yes, students take classes, participate in mentoring activities and internships from 9:30am – 3:30pm with some late afternoon or early morning classes depending on individual student schedules.
What are the takeaways for students who participate in the program?
Students achieve a certificate of completion from the Division of Continuing Education, a certificate of completion for whichever Career Pathway Credentialing Course they choose to specialize in as well as any certifications that they earn while in the program. Students who take elective courses for credit while enrolled in the program will have those grades listed on their transcripts, however Turning Point encourages students to audit their elective courses.
What is the point of taking an elective if you are not taking it for a grade?
The purpose of enrolling in an elective class is to explore an area of interest and promote life long learning, not to pass a college level course. As the college level electives ARE NOT MODIFIED, and this is often the first time our students are taking a non-modified course with no assistant present, we ask families to consider the benefit of taking the course as an audit. This allows for the student to participate, and complete all assignments to the best of their ability. If the assignment is a five-page paper, the student will not receive an ‘F’ grade if they hand in a two-page paper. We hope the elective provides students with an enriching experience where they can connect to student peers, form relationships with professors and gain exposure to all of the course material and activities in an area that interests them.
What are the Career Pathway Credentialing Courses that students take and are these courses modified?
Turning Point researched and developed career pathway courses based on NJ labor needs in key industry clusters that offer the opportunity to earn credentials and certifications. The courses and exams are not modified, but Turning Point offers students ‘Enhanced Support’ for these courses, which includes extended instruction time and tutoring sessions. The current Career Pathway offerings include Dietary Aide, Certified Logistics and Manufacturing, Hospitality, Office Technology with Electronic Records Management and Child Development Associate. Turning Point looks to add at least one additional credential offering per year.
Do students participate in internships?
Yes, students participate in internships during both years of the program. During year one, students work five hours per week in an on-campus job. Students are assisted by job coaches, student mentors and college staff. This experience helps students develop soft and technical skills, determine interests and allows staff to assess each students’ skills. During year two, students will work with Turning Point staff to determine an off-campus 12 hour per week internship that will prepare each individual for employment upon graduation. These internships are supported by job coaches. Each vocational program is customized to fit the needs, interests and abilities of each student.
How do families pay for the program’s tuition?
Families are encouraged to seek funding in a variety of ways. This can include student self-pay, dual enrollment where the school district support costs of the program, or connecting with an agency to determine funding availability. Turning Point DOES NOT make arrangements for payment with any agency on behalf of students or families. It is 100% the responsibility of each individual to determine how they will pay the tuition costs for the program.
If students don’t get a degree when they graduation the program, what do they take away from the experience?
Students achieve a certificate of completion from the Division of Continuing Education, a certificate of completion for whichever Career Pathway Credentialing Course they choose to specialize in as well as any certifications that they earn while in the program. Students who take elective courses for credit while enrolled in the program will have those grades listed on their transcripts, however Turning Point encourages students to audit their elective courses. Students also receive continued support with career placement until an employment goal is met, and continued career services after graduation.
What is your employment rate?
Since the creation of the Career Pathway Credentialing courses in 2016, 88% of graduates are employed in paid integrated employment. Of those students who participated in a Career Pathway Credentialing Course, 74% are employed in paid integrated employment for 16 or more hours per week.
Do Turning Point Students participate in the College’s Commencement Ceremony?
Yes, in addition to a private recognition ceremony, Turning Point students participate in the large graduation ceremony alongside their Bergen Community College peers each spring.
What is the mission and values of the Turning Point Program?
The Turning Point Program at Bergen Community College promotes that a postsecondary college experience in a supportive setting provides a valuable opportunity for a young adult with an intellectual disability to enrich their life academically, socially and vocationally. Turning Point has determined that a successful outcome for any student who attends the program will be:
- when that student has developed the ability to take ownership of and participates in making important life decisions (self-determination),
- when a student is empowered to realize when assistance is needed and the action required to acquire that assistance (self-advocacy),
- when that student has determined and achieved a vocational goal that includes the desire for and attainment of competitive integrated employment.
Turning Point provides an opportunity for a young adult with an intellectual disability to pursue academic interests, develop social skills and gain skills that will make that young adult work ready. Turning Point hopes that participants of the program will gain independence, learn how to make good decisions, use their voices to speak up for wants and needs, and that graduates of the program will become employed in a job that is a good match. We do not consider the Turning Point Program a bridge to the College and do not consider enrolling in the College as a successful outcome for students who complete the program.