Governor’s Designation Means Northern Essex Early College Free to Haverhill Students

Allasandra Thompson, a 2019 Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School graduate enters UMass Boston as a sophomore, thanks to the credits she earned in the Northern Essex Community College Early College Program. (Courtesy photograph.)

The Haverhill High School Early College Program at Northern Essex Community College was one 13 high schools and eight public colleges statewide to receive the endorsement of Gov. Charlie Baker Thursday. The designations mean all courses are free to Haverhill High students beginning this fall.

Baker, at a ceremony at Bunker Hill Community College, awarded designations to the early college programs. Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn said he is pleased the governor has made Early College a priority.

“These students learn how to be successful in college and they also save a considerable amount on the cost of their college education. Early College programs address student success and college affordability.”

The Haverhill Early College Program began five years ago, and the first graduates—a group of 18— were recognized in January of 2015. Northern Essex also offers the program to Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, Lawrence and Amesbury high schools.

Baker said, “We believe early college has such an impact on student success that our administration proposed making it part of a school district’s state aid calculations so that more districts can provide students with these opportunities.” The designations come with $140,000 in implementation grants.

This fall, 88 Haverhill High School juniors and seniors are enrolled in the Early College program. They will take two courses each semester and a January intercession course. By the time they graduate from high school, they will each have 28 to 30 college credits, close to a full year of college studies. All courses are taught on Northern Essex’s Haverhill Campus and students travel by bus to campus from the high school in the afternoon. Students may choose from different pathways: liberal arts, business, healthcare, education, social services, criminal justice and STEM.

The college hopes to grow the program to 100 students by 2021.

Allasandra Thompson, a 2019 Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School graduate, is transferring to UMass Boston in the fall with 30 college credits.  As the featured speaker at the Early College Recognition Ceremony in May, she called Early College one of “the most underrated opportunities that we as high schools students have the opportunity of taking advantage of.”

She credited Early College will allowing her to save a year’s worth of time and money as she pursues her bachelor’s degree in psychology.

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