The high school-college hybrid that jumpstarts careers

By: | June 16, 2021

By his own account, Oscar Tendilla was a horrible middle school student, unmotivated and indifferent. Last month he became his family’s first college graduate. He now has plenty of career options, no debt and a diploma from Cornell University.

The 21-year-old son of Mexican immigrants relishes the tale of his turnaround. “I did poorly in middle school because I didn’t care,” Tendilla told me. He credits his rising ambitions to encouragement from his teachers at his Brooklyn high school, part of what was then a relatively new and untested high school network known as Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH).

Tendilla’s unlikely rise from muddled middle schooler to Ivy League graduate — he became valedictorian of Brooklyn P-TECH’s third graduating class in 2017, while also earning an associate degree from the New York City College of Technology (City Tech) — is explained in “Breaking Barriers: How P-TECH Schools Create a Pathway From High School to College to Career.” The new book was written by Stanley Litow, a former vice president of IBM and architect of the school model, and journalist Tina Kelley.

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