The Baker-Polito Administration has announced that the joint early college program between Worcester State University, Quinsigamond Community College, and the Worcester Public School System is one of four early college programs to receive official designation.
Each of the four designated early college programs will receive part of $420,000 in implementation grant funding.
Early college programs are designed to help high school students prepare for higher education while also giving them the opportunity to earn college credits at no cost.
The Early College Program is a collaborative effort with QCC, WSU and the WPS to establish college pathways for high school students in all seven Worcester high schools. The early college model will create college and career learning experiences and will bring college credit course offerings, mentoring and wrap-around services to Worcester high school students.
The program will focus on those who are underrepresented, under-served, and first-generation-to-college students. Students will have the opportunity to earn up to 12 college credits while simultaneously completing a high school diploma. The program will offer multiple outreach strategies to encourage and recruit underserved students who may not consider college an option due to barriers such as language, disability, financial and social factors, culture, and academic performance.
“Worcester State University remains committed to bringing early college and dual enrollment opportunities to the residents of Massachusetts,” said WSU President Barry M. Maloney. “This new designation will further our efforts to promote and encourage college success by youth in the City of Worcester. We are proud to have partnered with Quinsigamond Community College, the Worcester Public Schools, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Baker-Polito Administration on this effort.”
“We’re thrilled that our early college program was chosen. As a first-generation college student myself, I know the value of postsecondary education,” said QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja. “QCC and WPS aim to expand current early college enrollment numbers from 200 to approximately 2,000 to 3,000 students by fiscal year 2021.”
Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools Maureen Binienda added, “The Worcester Public Schools’ strong partnership with QCC and Worcester State is further expanded with the Early College High School Program. It will provide another unique opportunity for our students to be prepared for both college and careers.”
The early college program will feature supportive wraparound services that incorporate and integrate elements of other successful dual enrollment models such as the 100 Males to College program  and the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership  educational and wraparound services.
Mentoring is a key component of the program. Worcester State’s Latino Education Institute  will play a role in mentoring to improve the educational outcomes for Latino students. Both Mahoney and Pedraja serve as honorary board members of the LEI’s Board of Advisors.
Support services will include English Language Learner (ELL) classes, tutoring, mentoring, and preparation for college course placement, curriculum alignment, and information sessions about how to apply to college, complete a FASFA, search for scholarships, and apply for financial aid.
The state currently has given official designation to nine early college programs.
“Boosting the number of early college programs in the commonwealth is a priority for our administration that will provide more students with an opportunity to attend and complete college,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “Exposing high school students to college courses in a field that interests them, and offering college credits at no cost, will make the transition to college easier and better prepare many students for successful careers following their education.”
Families who are interested in learning more about the program should contact Dr. Mary E. Meade-Montaque, WPS Manager for Instruction & School Leadership at MontaqueM@worc.k12.ma.us .