Contacts for media:Emily Gowdey-Backus, director of media relations, Emily_GowdeyBackus@uml.edu; Nancy Cicco, assistant director of media relations, Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu
Along with a high school teaching partner in the classroom, students may have the opportunity to learn from UMass Lowell professors teaching ethics, economics, business law, environmental science, accounting and forensics.
It’s all part of the University of Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Collegiate Academy, an early college pilot program launched thanks to a renewable Incubator Grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“UMass Lowell is excited to join the early college push happening across Massachusetts and we know students in Dracut, Methuen and Billerica will benefit from the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school,” said Joseph C. Hartman, the university’s provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.
Hartman said the program will start this fall with students being able to choose one of multiple course options.
“By exposing high school students to college level courses and faculty, we can empower students who may not have considered a college education possible,” Hartman said. “They realize, ‘Hey, I can do this!’”
According to Francine Coston, who leads the university’s early college initiatives, UMass Lowell hopes to expand course options and the number of high schools participating in the coming years.
The university’s goal is to eventually offer students different pathways – in STEM, business, or in liberal arts – if they choose to focus toward a specific degree. However, Coston noted that many of the courses offered will fill the general course requirements of multiple pathways.
“We want to get to a place where, by the time a student graduates high school, they can enter college as a sophomore,” said Coston, emphasizing that while the hope is they choose to become a River Hawk, the credits can seamlessly transfer anywhere in Massachusetts and even out of state.
Hartman praised the pairing of a familiar high school teacher with the college professor as an asset to the program.
“High school teachers are essential to preparing students for college and they know their students far better than we do. We’re so grateful to partner with them and with high school guidance counselors to ease the transition to college, minimize costs and launch these students into their careers as college graduates,” he said.