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Salem State’s early college program is strengthened by new state funding

Salem High School students can earn up to 24 college credits at no cost during high school, with plans to grow that number

Salem State University’s early college partnership with Salem High School will grow thanks to two grants that the university received from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Forten Scholars Early College Program allows high school students to complete up to 24 college credits at no cost, providing those who may not otherwise have an opportunity to attend higher education classes a pathway to reducing the cost and time to degree completion. The goal of Early College is to increase access for students who are first generation to college or face other barriers to pursuing a degree.

Commonwealth early college expansion grants of $75,000 and $150,000 will allow the Forten Scholars program to serve more students while adding an early college office at Salem State and a tutoring center at Salem High School. Currently enrolling 100 students, Salem State hopes to serve 150 in the next academic year.

Forten Scholars was one of the first early college programs in the state to receive formal designation in 2018 and is now in its fifth year.

“This program is about access, especially for first-generation college students,” said Michelle Pierce, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Salem State. “Students are shown a path to college early in their high school careers, and that path is made easier when they graduate from high school having completed college credits at no cost.”

The Commonwealth is looking for Salem State to expand the number of credits offered to high school students so that they finish their senior year with 30 college credits, which was the impetus for the program receiving increased funding.

“Salem High is grateful that this expansion funding has allowed us to create our tutoring center, modeled after the Walsh Writing Center at SSU. We have adults and many early college students providing writing and math support to students,” said Amie Capodanno, Salem High’s early college program manager.

The funding will also support a new travel study course and the creation of early college promotional videos in English and Spanish.

Salem State also has an early college program established with Lynn Public Schools, reaching students at Lynn English High School and Lynn Classical High School.

Along with early college’s benefits to students, the partnership has allowed long-standing collaboration between Salem High School and Salem State University to continue growing.

“One thing that we’re very proud of is our co-teaching model where Salem State faculty go to Salem High twice a week to offer the course in collaboration with a Salem High School teacher,” Pierce said.

Associate Dean Michelle Pierce, College of Arts and Sciences
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