Some local high school students are taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities to get a leg up on the college experience.
Eighty students from Framingham and Natick, MA, are taking classes through a new program called Partner High School Dual Enrollment. Twice a week, they head to MassBay Community College to take the college-level class Introduction to Communication.
"It's a great opportunity for high school students to actually see what it's like in a college course, in a college classroom, and they're earning credit," said Lisa Slavin, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management at MassBay.
Thanks to a state grant, it's all free of cost, from tuition to books and even transportation.
"We want to make sure we're giving opportunities to students who may not actually see themselves going to college, and once they get into the classroom, they really think that this is the next step for them," Slavin said.
Dual enrollment classes at MassBay include students of all ages, some taking on mentoring roles for their younger peers.
"The best thing about this course, the entire program really, is that it creates a diverse environment in which students of different backgrounds, personal responsibilities, and educational paths can exchange ideas," said adjunct professor Denise Barsky.
The experience has given students a taste of higher education before graduating from high school.
"I think that being a dual enrollment student is going to make me mature in a way, more responsible," said Gabe Dasilva, a junior at Framingham High School.
"It's teaching me the techniques that colleges use to prepare you," said Abigail Addopleh, Framingham High junior. "I want to be a doctor. And I pray that happens."
The Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership is managed and supported by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Last year, the program had more than 1,600 students enrolled.