Archbishop Williams High School is expanding its dual enrollment program in the coming academic year, partnering with seven colleges and universities to provide college credit to high school students.
This year, Archbishop Williams will add Emmanuel College and Assumption College to the list in which courses can be taken online, at the college, or in the high school with an AWHS teacher for college credit.
Last year, students could take any of 13 courses as part of the high school program of studies at Syracuse University, Stonehill College, Regis College, University of Massachusetts-Boston, and Quincy College.
The expansion is something AWHS officials are proud of, and is something that will offer even more opportunities for the students of the Catholic school in Braintree.
"The number and nature of courses our students can choose will increase exponentially," said Dr. Carmen Mariano, president of AWHS.
The idea is to enable high school seniors to graduate with even a semester’s worth of college credit under their belts, something that could save both time and money in obtaining a post-secondary degree.
Even more than the money, however, is the confidence it instills into the student.
“‘There is benefit here that isn’t financial…[students say] this is college. Am I going to be able to make it? The beauty of this program is we have students in high school who will never ask that question, because they have succeeded in college while still at the high school level. It’s an issue of courage and confidence,” Mariano said.
Although the dual enrollment program started at AWHS only a year ago, 65 students already have graduated having received college credit.
Eligible juniors and seniors can chose to enroll at the college, can enroll in AWHS classes that meet collegiate criteria, or can take collegiate online courses through the institution for credit at that prospective school.
“What we do is gain permission based on the student’s credentials, for the student to log on to that course as if he or she was a college freshman,” Mariano said. Similar to collegiate classes that are taught at AWHS, “we build that into our schedule…[but] the college and high school want to do everything we can to see that these students with college credits are doing it the college way.”
The online courses, a program recently started this summer, will be worked into the classroom schedule this fall, Mariano said.
The program has grown large enough to enable the high school to join the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.
According to Mariano, the Alliance includes dozens of collegiate members from across the country. This program oversees the transfer of student and credit, and will hopefully enable the school to partner with more institutions in the future.
“The National Association was established to support and oversee dual-enrollment programs… it helps establish a level of quality control,” Mariano said.
AWHS says it's one of only a handful of area schools that conduct dual enrollment programs.
“I think it offers a unique opportunity for our kids at the highest level of education,” Mariano said. “We’re not only preparing them for college, we’re offering that experience while still in high school, and I couldn’t be prouder of that.”