‘Middle college’ draws high-risk students

Aa the fishing industry declined in New Bedford, Massachusetts, high school dropout rates rose. However, Bristol Community College is partnering with high schools to reduce dropouts through a Middle College program that lets students earn college and high school credits at the same time.

Dropouts or students at risk of dropping out must pass placement tests and be interviewed to get into Middle College.

 In just one year, Middle College has yielded success. What started as a 20-person cohort boomed to nearly 70 this past September, with more growth expected as the program continues to send high school grads out into the real world. Program leaders attribute the jump in enrollment to not only the partnership with the local schools, but word-of-mouth endorsements from current students to friends or family in similar circumstances.

“I was out of high school for five years before a friend recommended Middle College to me,” said Michael Camara, a first-year student in the program. “So I took the placement tests, I got accepted and now I’m on my way to my degree in business entrepreneurship. It’s tough, balancing family and school—I do have a three-year-old at home—but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Of five students who completed their high school diplomas in Middle College’s first year, three are enrolled at BCC and a fourth plans to enroll this spring.

About to become a father, Darius Payne explains why he enrolled in Middle College. “I don’t want to be a bum raising a child. I want to have something, show something to my child.”