Since 2007 Greenfield Community College (GCC) has partnered with Greenfield High School to establish the Early Transition Program (ETP). In January 2009, the partnership expanded to include Turners Falls High School. The program, housed at GCC, provides students with an alternative opportunity to complete their high school graduation requirements in a supportive environment. Student participants have typically experienced difficulty within the traditional high school environment and are interested in exploring higher education. The intended outcomes for participants include high school graduation and an increased ability to access and complete higher education.
Each semester, juniors and seniors from the participating high school are invited to complete a program application and participate in the interview and screening process. Most student participants are from low to moderate income families, using eligibility for the USDA free or reduced lunch program criteria. Students have diverse reasons for applying. Typically the program has provided support to students for whom the traditional high school environment is not a good fit. Often students are also the first generation within their families to attend college, may have concerns about social pressures within a high school environment, or may have clear career goals and are looking to be strategic with their educational achievements.
The Program is a partnership between GCC, Greenfield High School (GHS), and Turners Falls High School (TFHS). Both GHS and TFHS are publicly funded municipal school districts. Potential student participants are carefully screened to ensure both that they are capable of college level work and would benefit from receiving instruction in the alternative college learning environment. Participants earn both high school credits and college credit for successfully completing GCC courses.
ETP students complete a 3 credit first year experience course to help develop the cohort and support the transition from high school to college. Beyond this course, students take their remaining courses with the general student population. Programmatically, this model is meant to provide foundational support while allowing students to make new connections—both socially and academically—during their time at GCC.
Historically, the program has successfully motivated a significant number of ETP students to consider and transition to formal college programs. Many students not only earn their high school diplomas this way, but also earn certificate or associate degrees from GCC; some also transfer to four year colleges to continue their education. An August 2012 report by GCC’s Director of Assessment shows that 50% of ETP dual enrollment students enrolled in Fall09/Spring10 matriculated into a program at GCC and 18.75% enrolled directly at a 4-year college.