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From left, Bev Maselli with her daughter, Jenna, a Drury High School student who is spending part of her senior year taking college courses for credit at MCLA.

MCLA Expands Dual Enrollment for High School Students

02/24/16

For years, high school students have taken advantage of the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Program, which allows them to take college courses for credit, and at no cost. Soon, high school students from throughout the northern Berkshires – and some recent high school graduates from Pittsfield – will enjoy some changes that will give them even greater access to college classes.

Besides the regular introductory-level college courses they can take at MCLA during the fall, spring and summer semesters, students this fall will be able to take a college-level Spanish course at McCann High Technical High School.

In addition, an “Introduction to Computer Programming” course will be delivered jointly in three class sections – at McCann and Hoosac Valley high schools during their regular school day, and in a traditional “open” session at MCLA.

The instructor of these courses will work with MCLA to ensure that these courses meet college standards, explained Howard “Jake” Eberwein III, Ed.D., dean of graduate and continuing education.

“As a public institution, one of our core values is access,” Eberwein said. “We understand that access, for a lot of students, is the belief that they can do college work and see themselves as college students. Dual enrollment helps students to create that vision of themselves at college and beyond. When we offer students credit-bearing courses, and they’re successful in taking them, they immediately believe in themselves and aspire to attend college.”

Taking a college course at their own high school makes sense, he added, for students who must drive longer distances to get to MCLA or who don’t have a car, or those are involved with various activities – such as sports – that would conflict with taking a class on the College’s campus.

 “We have one computer science instructor who is working with the three high school instructors who are delivering the course,” Eberwein explained. “It’s a unique opportunity to partner with the high schools and do some community building. We think it may be a model for future courses.”

In addition, MCLA is planning a summer academy for recently graduated high school students who live in and around the Pittsfield area. This program will include a summer experience that includes courses in “Intro to College Writing” and “Mathematics for Liberal Arts.”

Modeled much like MCLA’s Individual Enrichment Program (IEP), part of the “MCLA 2016 Summer Academy” will be devoted to college readiness. Academic skills such as note-taking and time management will be discussed, and students will visit a college campus. Plans also include work internship opportunities during the afternoons of the month-long program.

According to Tom and Bev Maselli, the Dual Enrollment Program at MCLA allows their daughter Jenna to have the best of both worlds as she attends traditional high school classes as a senior at Drury High School, along with “open” college courses for credit at the College.

“The experience proved to be everything I had hoped,” Jenna Maselli said. “It is incredible being in such a different learning environment.

“Being part of the Dual Enrollment program has made me much better prepared for college,” she continued. “I’ve done well in my classes and know what will be expected of me when I start as a freshman in the fall. I feel much more confident, excited and well-prepared to take on college.”