Under the Mayor’s College Access for All Initiatives, CUNY has partnered with NYCDOE to implement CUNY Explorers, ensuring that every seventh grade student is exposed to a college-going culture and has the opportunity to visit a college campus at least once. Middle school sets the foundation for success in high school, college, and beyond. By supporting students to develop a college identity at a critical developmental age and providing a campus experience that promotes a college-going mindset, students and families internalize the message that college is a necessary and achievable goal. The campus visit is embedded in a broader set of student and parent activities implemented by the DOE, focused on planning for high school and college.


CUNY Explorers provides every seventh grade student with the opportunity to visit a CUNY campus at least once in middle school, exposing them to college earlier in their academic careers and fostering a college-going mindset that helps students better prepare for their futures. The driving message is that every student CAN go to college, every student can AFFORD college, and students and their families can take steps NOW to become college ready.


CUNY hires and trains college students, called visit guides, to deliver an interactive and meaningful campus experience for the visiting middle school students. Students explore the campus through a guided tour, eat lunch on campus, meet college students and campus staff, and participate in a hands-on activity that promotes college readiness or introduces them to an academic area of study. To supplement the campus visit and to deepen the impact of the program, Explorers visit guides travel to middle school classrooms to facilitate activities and discussions about college.


In the 2018-2019 academic year, CUNY Explorers will host up to 70,000 middle school students at fifteen CUNY campuses for an engaging and customized campus visit experience. On an average day, approximately 550 seventh graders can be found exploring the wonders of CUNY and imagining themselves as future college students. Schools in District 75, District 79, and those with high numbers of English Language Learners are specifically supported through partnerships with campus accessibility and resource offices.


Sarah McConnell, Director of Campus Engagement Programs, CUNY K-16 Initiatives