Designated early college programs aim to prioritize students underrepresented in higher education enrollment and completion. To facilitate this, programs are structured to eliminate barriers to student participation. Design might therefore include, but not be limited to, tuition-free participation, open enrollment without regard to prior academic performance, student supports to promote success, scalability, multiple entry points for students, and student supports to prepare students for entry into the program.
Early college programs are also designed to focus on the goal of closing achievement gaps and offering educational models to leverage students’ own personal assets and help them thrive. Research of early college models nationally has demonstrated the effectiveness of designing early college high schools to ensure equitable access. As such, the Massachusetts Early College model is designed with the goal of broadening access to college.
A goal of designated programs is to keep early college pathways as open as possible, particularly with regard to prior academic performance. Program design and enrollment for students who have historically been underrepresented in higher education is a priority. Schools are encouraged to make real, targeted, and thoughtful efforts to aggressively recruit students who may be the first in their family to go to college, who are part of demographic groups historically underrepresented in higher education, who may be English language learners, or who may otherwise not yet possess a perception that they may be a college going student.
Hasan Davis, Inclusion Expert, shares strategies to ensure equity in early college programs.