HOLYOKE — College unaffordability. Increased competition for spots at prestigious local institutions of higher education. The inaccessibility of college. Decreased academic offerings at high schools struggling with budget woes.
These are all challenges and problems that local high schoolers face. But a series of programs in the state are providing some solutions.
For a high schooler looking to take college courses or students with intellectual disabilities experiencing campus life with their peers, so-called dual enrollment programs are expanding across the state. And with them come the benefits of college coursework while students are still attending area high schools.
“I think there’s always an advantage for students of any age from having experiences with an older peer group,” said William Diehl, executive director of Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton. “It’s a pretty different way of interacting with your education, and I think high schoolers having exposure to that helps them build their self confidence, helps them build those life skills that are important for that next stage.”
Often, people think about “dual enrollment” as a monolithic program — namely, talented high schoolers double dipping in both college and high school classes. But Diehl explained that there are actually three distinct programs in the state that offer different experiences to students — traditional, early college and inclusive concurrent enrollment for students with intellectual disabilities.