Bristol CC Early College Program approved for New Bedford High

NEW BEDFORD — New Bedford High School students interested in getting a head start on a college degree have a new opportunity to do so, free of charge, starting this summer now with the state’s recent approval of Early College programming Department of Primary and Secondary Education.

This isn’t the first time the school department has partnered with Bristol Community College to bring a higher education to high school students, but it is the most comprehensive program of its kind to date, offering students the opportunity to choose from three pathways – Business Transfer, Computer Information Science, and Data Science. healthcare – and earn between one and two semesters of college credit toward a related degree. Bristol CC Associate Director, College Access, Carlos E. Avila, explained how the new program differs from the popular dual-enrollment partnership between high school and college.

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“So dual enrollment is basically an exploratory opportunity as well as a complement to secondary education. It’s more or less self-guided, so students could have taken courses that suited their interest at that time. , but there isn’t t the structure involved in Early College,” Avila said. “With Early College, students know the courses they will take. There was pre-planning from year one and year two.”

How will it work

Opportunities for students to start will begin this summer through the New Bedford Public Schools Whaler Ready program. Students entering grades 9-11 in the fall will be able to enroll in the College Success Seminar (CSS 101), which is the first step.

“This is a one-credit course focused on preparing students for successful enrollment and participation in their chosen higher education pathway,” explained Magaly Sanchez, Chief Data and of the Curriculum Assessment for New Bedford Public Schools Enrichment and Accelerated Programs, which submitted the Early College program application in conjunction with Avila.

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Students enrolled in Early College will take university courses in high school taught by Bristol CC visiting professors until their senior year, when they will begin taking courses at the Bristol CC campus in New Bedford or Fall River. It’s a methodology that educators call “academic acculturation,” Sanchez said. “This benefits students as it helps them get used to being on the college campus, helps them know where important support offices such as University Student Services and Financial Aid are. Essentially, is that students learn about the various services and opportunities available to them and how to access these supports.”

Another major component of Early College is having a strong support system in place to help students through start to finish and beyond into full college life. Officials from both schools described a number of these supports, including partnerships with MassHire; and private academic tutoring and advising company OneGoal Prep – the latter will provide Early College students with two years of support while they are still in high school before following them through their freshman year of college.

How to register

Interested students will need to submit applications for a place, with plans in place to register by lottery in case there are more applicants than openings. According to Avila, the full Early College program will have 120 openings for the coming school year, with plans to double to 240 the following year; however, there will be 528 openings for students enrolling in the College Success Seminar this summer, which he says is intended to benefit any student with college plans.

As part of the program’s equity-focused design, candidates’ “past academic performance” will not be a factor in enrollment, Sanchez noted.

New Bedford High seniors enrolled in the new Early College program will attend college classes at Bristol Community College's Fall River or Downtown campus, pictured here in a Standard-Times file photo.

In the bigger picture

School officials in New Bedford and Bristol CC and others are touting Early College programs as a way to increase equity for underrepresented populations in higher education. On Monday, the Baker-Polito administration announced that, as part of a statewide campaign to create more college opportunities for high school students, more than $1.3 million in grants have been reserved for schools offering Early College programs.

“Early College is a wonderful addition to the pathways that currently exist at New Bedford High School and will provide additional college access and opportunities for students and especially for students who might not otherwise consider college as an option for them,” Sanchez said. .

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“I am a New Bedford resident myself, so it’s great to see my work having a positive impact,” Avila said. is the best he’s ever been. It will increase academic results and let them go further than ever.”

In a New Bedford Public Schools press release, Superintendent Thomas Anderson noted how the new Early College program is one part of a broader and ever-growing range of college opportunities.

“With our partners at Bristol CC in Higher Education, we are able to include Early College as another pathway for students to earn degrees at NBHS which already includes over 20 advanced placement courses, dual enrollment , the National Academy Foundation certification, the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy, and Academy of Honors, and the soon-to-be-approved International Baccalaureate program.

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In addition to its partnership with New Bedford, Bristol CC is also launching an Early College program with Argosy Collegiate Charter School in Fall River. This version of the program will offer a unique liberal arts transfer pathway, Bristol CC officials say.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Education projects that as a result of the current push for Early College programming, approximately 8,700 students will be enrolled in early college programs by the 2024-2025 school year, according to A press release.

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