MARLBOROUGH – Marlborough has joined a statewide coalition to encourage more students to enter into early college programs.
The Massachusetts Alliance for Early College (MEAC) includes some of the state’s largest districts, boasting members like Worcester, Boston and Salem, as well as over 70 additional organizations, districts and nonprofits.
The program aims to increase the number of students within early college classes by over 900% – from 4,500 students to 45,000 students over the next five years.
“Closing those opportunity gaps is a very equitable solution,” Marlborough High School Principal Dan Riley told the Community Advocate last week. “All of our students should be prepared for post-secondary education even if they choose not to attend.”
Principal celebrates program
Marlborough has participated in early college programs for over a decade.
It currently has 119 high school students participating in 140 such early college courses, with some students taking multiple courses.
Students will be able to earn up to 21 credit hours, beginning as early as next year Riley said.
Classes are real college classes that are career oriented and that take place during the high school day. There is no cost to students or families.
Riley explained that providing additional programs will give students a foundation that will make them better equipped to handle the challenges of post-secondary life.
“The student experience here becomes rigorous and purposeful, and hopefully they’ll come back to our community to work in one of the many thriving industries,” said Riley. “All of this is tied into the district’s plan to provide a higher level of academic achievement throughout their time in Marlborough Public Schools.”
Riley said he believes that providing students with early college experience will give students a greater chance of continuing on to bigger opportunities after high school.
“The rigor that you experience in high school is applied to everything after high school,” he said.
Riley continued, saying that providing these programs will result in Marlborough High School alumni potentially earning a higher income thanks to a higher likelihood of continuing with post-secondary education.
A 2014 study from Pew Research, indeed, found that individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree earn nearly double what those with a high school diploma earn.
“What we provide as a foundation will set them up for success,” Riley said.
‘This opportunity is transformational for our students’
Superintendent of Schools Michael Bergeron recently shared similar excitement over this effort, echoing the importance of providing these programs for students in Marlborough.
“Our data shows that it increases access to college enrollment, and as important, students persist and stay in college at higher rates as well,” Bergeron said in a Feb. 22 press release. “Early College raises the level of rigor in education, and provides considerable cost savings to students who earn college credit while still enrolled as high school students.”
“This opportunity is transformational for our students, many who are economically disadvantaged and the first in their household to attend a college or university,” he continued.