UMass early college initiatives expected to make major gains in the next academic year

University of Massachusetts early college initiatives are projected to increase enrollment to 913 this fall, a 50 percent increase in just the second year of the pilot program. These students will earn UMass course credits while still in high school, giving them a head start on their college education, acquainting them with college-level work and saving them money when they do go to college.

A UMass early college status update was presented today at the university’s Board of Trustees Committee on Academic and Student Affairs. The plan is to scale the effort to several thousand students in the coming years. The initiative is supported by state, federal investments as well as the Smith Family Foundation.

“Early college programs are a key component of the university’s efforts to keep a college education affordable while also encouraging high school students, especially first-generation college students, to see that college is possible for them,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “Early college is also critical as the state works to expand the talent pool in Massachusetts at a time of the declining high school-age population.”

A projected 650 of the 2023-24 academic year students will be served by the Commonwealth Collegiate Academy (CCA), a UMass System initiative that offers live course instruction delivered online by UMass faculty to students in eight high schools during the normal school day. High school instructors partner with their UMass colleagues to provide face-to-face support for labs, discussion sections, and team-based projects.

UMass Dartmouth and UMass Lowell piloted CCA initiatives at the following high schools this academic year: New Bedford, Durfee (Fall River), Brockton, Billerica, Dracut, Greater Lowell Technical, Taunton, and Methuen. Students from these schools will spend 1-2 weeks on the UMass campuses this fall as an introduction to college life.

Another 263 students are projected to enroll in early college classes offered by UMass Boston at Fenway, New Mission, and BCLA/McCormack high schools in Boston. UMass Boston piloted its early college program in those same schools this year.

UMass Amherst is planning to use the next academic year to plan its Commonwealth Collegiate Academy programs and build the necessary high school partnerships.

Students who participate in Early College programs enroll in college at significantly higher rates than their high school peers. Early college programs also boost college completion rates for low-income, minority and first-generation college students.