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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

How Early College levels the playing field

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Olivia Reid
The Jumpstart office located on the second floor of the Campus Center. Photo by Olivia Reid / Photography Editor.

Massachusetts is at a critical point in determining the future of its educational system and building more equitable college and career outcomes. Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey recently expanded financial aid options and made in-state college tuition and financial aid opportunities more widely available, and the state is continuing to fund the Student Opportunity Act to ensure sufficient funding for K-12 districts. [1] While these incredible efforts will go a long way, expanding access to Early College programs is the key to unlocking a better and more equitable future for the next generation. 

Early College has had a direct positive impact on my life. When I was 14 years old as a freshman, I officially joined my high school’s Early College program, which was partnered with Massasoit Community College. When I graduated high school in June 2023, I graduated with my Associate degree in science in liberal arts alongside my high school diploma. Early College allowed me to save thousands of dollars in college tuition, and I could transfer 71 college credits to the university I decided to attend after my high school graduation. From my participation in Early College, I learned to be more independent, have time management skills and handle multiple responsibilities at a time. I met and made lifelong friends throughout this program, where we grew together academically and emotionally. 

Research regularly shows that students who engage in Early College programs are more likely to complete high school and enroll in college. According to an American Institutes for Research study, Early College participants are 23 percent more likely to earn a post-secondary degree than their peers. [2] In Massachusetts, Early College students are 15 percent more likely than peers to immediately enroll in college and 16 percent more likely to persist in college, according to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data. [3] In short, Early College demonstrates positive benefits for Massachusetts students as well as students in states across the country.  

The benefits of Early College also extend beyond individual accomplishments. Early College programs build collaborations between high schools and local colleges, enhancing the bond between high schools, universities and local communities, and fostering a more mutually beneficial partnership. According to the Community College Research Center, Early College engagement enhances the possibility of students enrolling in neighboring higher education institutions, contributing to the development of the local economy. [4] Expanding access to Early College in Massachusetts is an investment in our youth’s futures and a strategic step to strengthen our communities. 

In addition to supporting our students and our communities, Early College programs help create a more equitable educational system by impacting college and career success for underrepresented minorities and low-income students. According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the increases in college enrollment and persistence that Early College drives are consistent for Black, Latino and low-income students. [3] Expanding these programs is about more than simply investing in education; it is a dedication to leveling the playing field and fostering a more equitable workforce that reflects the diversity of our state’s population.  

In short, expanding Early College in Massachusetts is about more than investing in just another educational program; it is an instrument for empowering students, developing a skilled workforce and creating an equitable future for all. Together, we can be trailblazers in building purposeful, impactful educational journeys for students across the commonwealth. 

 

SOURCES: 

[1] https://www.mass.gov/news/healey-driscoll-administration-announces-historic-financial-aid-expansion-for-massachusetts-public-college-and-university-students  

[2] https://www.air.org/project/evaluating-impact-early-college-high-schools  

[3] https://www.doe.mass.edu/ccte/early-college/fact-sheet.pdf  

[4] https://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/reshaping-college-transition.pdf  

About the Contributor
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor