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Early College Program is a Direct Pathway to Higher Education

August, 2020
  • Worcester Public School Early College students took an 'Introduction to Information Technologies' last fall at QCC.
    Worcester Public School Early College students took an 'Introduction to Information Technologies' last fall at QCC.

Students in the Worcester Public Schools and the surrounding communities have been taking advantage of Quinsigamond Community College’s Early College Program and the results have been promising. Early College Programs have become a way for high school students to get a head start on college, by enabling them to earn college credits while still in high school, and according to the Baker-Polito Administration, the Early College program model has been successful. QCC has seen 42% of its Early College students enroll at the college within one year of taking early college courses during the program’s early beginnings.

In the first preliminary data analysis completed since the state's Early College Program began in 2018, the findings showed that Massachusetts high school students who graduate from Early College programs are applying for Federal financial aid and are enrolling in college at significantly higher rates than their school or state peers. Data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education showed that high school graduates who participated in Early College programs are enrolling in college at a rate that is 20 percentage points higher than their school or state peers; and their FAFSA completion rates are 25 percentage points higher than school peers.

Since 2018, QCC has been providing Worcester Public Schools’ diverse student population with educational services, creating college equity access to more students who have historically been underserved. Data collected by QCC found that of those students who participated in the college’s Early College Program during the 2018-2019 academic year, the largest participating student populations were Latinx (29.2%) and Black (28.8%).

“At a time when we see racial equity gaps widening, it is encouraging to see the impact of Early College as an effective strategy to propel Black and Latinx students to successful college completion,” said Higher Education Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago.

The state data also showed that when outcomes for Black and Latinx students enrolled in Early College were compared with peers of the same race who were not enrolled in the program, Early College students of color attended college at higher rates. The differential between Black Early College graduates who enrolled in college and their Black school peers was 25 percentage points. Between Latinx early college program graduates and their Latinx school peers the difference was 30 percentage points. 

“While the Commonwealth performs well in many education measures, the launch and growth of Early College is an important step forward in equitable access to college for all students and a proven way to close the college degree completion gap,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. 

QCC has partnered not only with the seven Worcester Public High Schools, but also with 22 additional area Central Massachusetts High Schools. Students take classes that range from general education, business and healthcare and fulfill their high school requirements while completing college credits.

“Our Early College Program is making such a difference in the lives of students. It is giving them a pathway to higher education and a way to realize their dreams and have a better life,” said QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja.

According to QCC’s Director of Educational Partnerships K-12 & Early College Initiatives, Christina Hebert, the majority of high school students taking classes are juniors and seniors, with a small percent who are sophomores.

“Some students take two courses per semester and summer classes,” she said. “The goal of Massachusetts Early College Programs is to have all high school students graduate with at least 12 college credits. The opportunity is there for students to graduate from high school and also earn a certificate or associate degree. Some students have graduated with 15 to 24 or more credits.”

To learn more visit, QCC’s Early College program.