NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and Berkshire Community College (BCC), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) and the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board (BCREB), will offer the first MCLA/BCC Dual Enrollment: Summer 2016 Academy, from July 6 through Aug. 5, to provide an intensive college readiness experience to local, newly graduated high school students.

This pilot program, directed toward newly graduated high school students from Pittsfield and Northern Berkshire County, will include two Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program (CDEP) academic courses, which will prepare them to attend MCLA or BCC this fall. In addition, each student will work with the BerkshireWorks Career Center’s YouthWorks program in Pittsfield or the North Adams YouthWorks program to secure a paid internship position for the summer.

According to Jake Eberwein, MCLA’s dean of Graduate and Continuing Education, the program was organized with dual enrollment funding after the colleges identified an underserved population of high school students who live in Pittsfield and Northern Berkshire County, who needed a boost in confident to continue their education.

“MCLA is pleased to partner with BCC, the local schools, the Department of Higher Education, and the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board to offer this innovative summer program,” Eberwein said. “We are confident this unique program and set of opportunities will equip participating students with the academic and college readiness boost needed to successfully prepare for and transition to college. In doing so, we will advance student aspirations and increase access to college.” 

The Summer 2016 Academy will be held at the Conte Federal Building, 78 Center St., Pittsfield. It will include a math course, “Math 102: Mathematics for Liberal Arts,” taught by an MCLA professor, and an English course, “English 101: An Introduction to College-Level Composition,” taught by a member of the BCC faculty.

Students will earn six college credits – three for each course.

In addition, all participants who would like a summer work experience – who are not already working – will be offered a paid internship in a career area that interests them.

According to BCREB Youth Director Heather Williams, the program’s participants will have a range of employment experiences to choose from, from human services to the hospitality and tourism field. Summer job opportunities, she said, provide youth with the necessary exposure to basic and job-specific skills that will pave the way for their career success.

“These experiences allow youth to make the vital connections between academic achievement and career success, and showcase the myriad of career opportunities that are available in Berkshire County,” Williams said. “Hiring youth for summer employment opportunities allows our business community to attract young workers to their industries and build a future, skilled, sustainable workforce in the region. In turn, this will greatly contribute to the revitalization of our Berkshire economy and community at-large.”

Students also will receive college and career counseling from MCLA and BCC advisors; develop skills and competencies to build confidence; learn how to find and access support and resources; understand their options for paying for college and how to plan financially for college; gain experience by participating in classroom discussions and taking notes, which they will organize to use to study and complete assignments; and visit the MCLA and BCC campuses to meet key personnel and tour academic, community and residence spaces.

The students who successfully complete this program (with a 3.0 or higher) will be considered for acceptance to MCLA, based on academic standards. MCLA’s Admissions counselors will provide information and support to students and their families throughout this summer program to support a successful preparation for and transition to college.

Similarly, BCC admissions counselors will be available to assist those considering that college.

MCLA supports several other CDEP opportunities, including access to an inventory of courses that are taught on the North Adams campus, as well as a jointly delivered computer programming course that partners several North County high schools with MCLA.

BCC also offers access to courses on its campus, online, and at participating high schools.

The goal of the CDEP is to increase awareness of post-secondary opportunities and expand the population of college-ready students who would otherwise have limited or no access to an early college experience. By participating in CDEP opportunities, local high school students can earn college credit at no cost.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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