FSU receives $40,000 toward dual-enrollment programs

Leighah Beausoleil / THE GATEPOST

Framingham State received a $40,000 grant from the state to increase dual enrollment for underrepresented students Sept. 28. 

Dual enrollment is an opportunity for high-school students to enroll in college courses to earn credits toward their future college degrees, according to an FSU press release.

The MetroWest College Planning Collaborative heads the dual enrollment initiative, according to Colleen Coffey, executive director of the MetroWest College Planning Collaborative.

Coffey said the program “is a regional joint college access effort initiated by Framingham State University and MassBay Community College six years ago.

“Its end goal is to create many avenues and onramps to successful high school completion with strong academic rigor, college enrollment, and college completion,” Coffey added.

From Boston to Milford, each district chooses high-school students for the program in a different way, according to Coffey.

Some districts select students with their own programs such as “100 Males to College” and “Sisters for Success,” while others may send out the opportunity for everyone or select particular students, she said.

The types of classes offered, whether the student is on a “leadership track” or has plans in a particular field of study, all play a role, she added. 

Coffey said this is the “fifth or sixth” year the program has received this grant. The grant money has allowed the program to “create space for six courses in three different schools targeting our most underserved student population and our Mass transfer classes.”

Mass transfer courses are credits that are accepted at any Massachusetts state school or MassBay Community College. 

Coffey said dual enrollment is an important way for students to decide “what kind of path to take, and what kind of student to be,” as well as create connections with professors. 

Dual enrollment programs change “the course of their high school experience, which makes many more opportunities for them in their college experience,” she added.

In an email, LaDonna Bridges said, as associate dean of academic success and director of CASA, she plays a role in offering first-generation students academic support.

Many first-generation students struggle with “Imposter Syndrome,” where they feel they are not smart enough for college and therefore do not see college as a possibility, she said.

“Dual enrollment programs not only allow first-generation students to see that college is possible, but also that they are capable of such work,” Bridges added.

Success in these programs has the “potential to lessen Imposter Syndrome and enhance persistence through college,” she said.

The programs are only “one side of the coin,” and “success through college is the other side,” Bridges added. 

CASA provides support for college students who may be struggling with not only their college lives, but also their home lives, giving them a better chance at succeeding, according to Bridges.

Dual-enrollment programs have been available at FSU for many years, but have shifted their focus, according to Bridges. The focus shifted to underrepresented students such as first-generation, low-income, people of color, Africian American, and Latinx.

She added, “I am happy FSU has this opportunity, and I hope we can contribute to student success!”