When seniors Alana Nicoletti (pictured below at left) and Coleby Paling (center) walk into their Bridgewater State University classes, they feel like college students and are treated like them, too.
That shouldn’t surprise you – until you realize they have yet to graduate high school.
“I’ve had many moments where people were like ‘Wait, what, you’re in high school?’” Coleby said.
Alana, Coleby, and 13 of their Wareham High School classmates, spend part of each school day attending BSU. They are among about 50 juniors and seniors from around the region who take classes at the university through a dual-enrollment program. Students generally earn high school and college credit, but the benefits extend far beyond an impressive transcript.
“They really are getting that experience of being in a college class,” said Ashley O’Donnell, G’14, a BSU admissions counselor who coordinates the program. “It gives them that opportunity to explore what they might want to study.”
Dual-enrollment students learn to navigate campus and become familiar with BSU social and academic life. The university hopes they want to become fulltime Bears, something Alana and Coleby are considering.
“It’s definitely prepared me more with the workload and homework and just learning time management,” Alana said.
Wareham administrators Scott Palladino and Deb Freitas praised former BSU President Dana Mohler-Faria, a Wareham High alumnus, current President Frederick W. Clark Jr., and many other BSU employees for their support.
The Wareham-BSU partnership, launched about five years ago, allows students to graduate high school with up to eight college courses under their belt along with a true taste of higher education.
“They know what college is going to be like,” said Palladino, the WHS principal. “They are not fearful. They know they will be successful in college because of this experience.”
Wareham students make connections at Bridgewater while retaining strong ties to their high school. Coleby recently attended a BSU theater production while Alana interacted with her college classmates concerning English projects. Junior Niccolo Lembo-Volpe traveled to the statehouse with his writing class to deliver letters they wrote to lawmakers (pictured above at right).
Wareham students find they have more responsibility for their assignments in college courses and must think critically about themselves and their work.
“I feel like being given the opportunity to just make a few more decisions for yourself really prepares you for when you’re going to be on your own,” Niccolo said.
Dual-enrollment information is available at area high schools. BSU staff can send info to home-schooled students. The deadline to apply for the spring 2019 semester is Nov. 27 by 5 p.m. (Photo also by Brian Benson)