Photo of 6 students from SHS class of 2023 who participate in Early College programming

Photo: Members of the Somerville High School Class of 2023 who participated in the Early College program at Cambridge College.

Early College at Somerville High School

Eight Somerville High School graduates from the Class of 2023 who are enrolled in the school’s Early College program will start college in the fall having already earned credits toward a higher education degree. For the past two years, the students have been taking courses at Cambridge College.

Somerville launched Early College in the Fall of 2019, and since then, 67 SHS juniors and seniors have enrolled. Twice per week the students take a bus during the regular school day to the college’s Charlestown campus to take advanced courses taught by Cambridge College professors in World History, Social Justice, Engineering, and Digital Storytelling, all of which satisfy course requirements for their high school diploma. Each student can earn 12 or more college credits at no cost to them, which can defray the cost of higher education by about $7,500.

The Somerville program is one of 39 Early College partnerships across the Commonwealth. The program is supported by grants from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and in Somerville, by other local, state, and federal funds, as well as a private grant from the Barr Foundation. Early College is open to all students and is specially designed to promote access to higher education among students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students who receive special education services, first generation college-bound students, immigrant students, and former English Learners.

This school year, 19 juniors and eight seniors participated in the Somerville program. The members of the Class of 2023, who graduated on June 5, and the colleges they will attend are:

  • Julissa C. – Lesley University
  • Jahvory Clergeau – Fitchburg State University
  • Marco De Toledo – Suffolk University
  • Jaslene Jean Francois – Bunker Hill Community College
  • Anders Haugesag – Bentley University
  • Kayala Nayak – Bennington College
  • Shital Oli – Wesleyan University
  • Laura Garcia Yanes – Fitchburg State University

Over the past two years, these students earned a combined total of 81 college credits through the Early College program, which represents more than $50,000 in savings on college tuition costs.

“Early College offers so many benefits to our students,” said Melanie Kessler, the Director of College and Career Counseling for the Somerville Public Schools. “They value the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college credits, reducing the cost of higher education. They also gain tremendous experience by studying on a college campus and learning to navigate higher education systems, enhancing their readiness for success after high school in a safe, supportive environment.”

Ms. Kessler noted that in addition to the college courses, students who are selected for the program participate in college readiness workshops, support classes, and tutoring at the high school to help them succeed.

The Somerville School Committee has identified participation in Early College as one of several important pathways – along with Advanced Placement courses, Career and Technical Education, and other learning experiences – to help students build critical 21st century skills. The Committee has established a district goal that by 2025, at least 80% of students participate in one of these programs.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the outstanding success of the Early College program delivered by Cambridge College for Somerville High School over the past four years,” said Dr. James Lee, Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies at Cambridge College. “The impact of this program extends far beyond individual success stories. By addressing the historical disparities in access to higher education, we are actively working towards a more equitable and inclusive society. The graduates of this program are poised to become change-makers, leaders, and professionals who will contribute significantly to their communities, the workforce, and the overall development of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Students and families interested in learning more about Early College may speak to their guidance counselor, or contact Ms. Kessler:, 617-625-6600 x613023. Information about the program is provided in the fall to sophomores and juniors, and applications are due in the winter for enrollment in Early College the following fall.

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