“I am so excited… I’m going to college!” “ I can’t wait until I tell my parents about this, wow.” These were just a few of the many comments students were saying after being accepted to college at the annual Massachusetts College Access Celebration (MCAC) at their high school in Worcester. Having attended several of the programs in our high schools last month I can attest to the excitement and the relief of the students knowing that they have been accepted by the colleges.
MCAC is part of the American College Application Campaign initiative sponsored by the American Council on Education. It is sponsored by GEAR UP ( Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Massachusetts and administered by the Massachusetts of Higher Education in collaboration with the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority. Participating MCAC Colleges are American International College, Anna Maria College, Assumption College, Bay State College, Fitchburg State University, Nichols College, Quinsigamond Community College, Rhode Island College, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Western New England University, Westfield State University, and Worcester State University.
It’s interesting to note that Massachusetts held its first MCAC in 2012 and at that time only South High, North High and Worcester Technical were part of this program in the Worcester Public Schools. Since then all the high schools in the Worcester Public Schools have participated and the college numbers have grown. GEAR UP, sponsors of the program, is a National Initiative program that encourages young people to have high expectations, stay in school, study hard and take the right courses to go to college. With encouragement, the MCAC program gets seniors to submit a least one college application in December and the college’s come to the schools and visit with the students. On the spot acceptances for some students also happened and in addition, scholarship money also came for those students who were accepted.
Let’s look at the following statistics for this year:
•5183 applications were submitted by Worcester Public School seniors
•843 acceptances from colleges to WPS seniors took place
•A total of $4,545, 880 in scholarship offers district wide from the colleges took place
Keep in mind that the total number of applications ( 5183) reflects more than just the colleges that attended MCAC days. Many students also applied to other colleges that were not part of the MCAC so those applications are counted as well in the "applied" data. Some did hear back and many others will be hearing from those colleges soon. Thus, in addition to the MCAC colleges over 100 other colleges received applications from the students.
As for the MCAC event, every time a student was accepted to a college at the high school a cow bell rang in the school’s library and in most cases leading the charge was Superintendent Maureen Binienda. As the former principal at South High who was one of the three schools involved in this celebration years ago she continues to advocate for the entire system to make this event a meaningful one for the students.
According to Heather Parker, College and Career Liaison for the Worcester Public Schools, this event was a partnership with the schools and with the community. The guidance counselors and college access program staff (college access programs included: Gear up (North High), Talent Search ( South, Doherty, Burncoat)- trio programs in those schools supported by Mass EDCo; and Bruce Wells Upward Bound Program also helped at University Park Campus School, and Claremont, Doherty, North, and South), and other school staff collaborated together to prepare, plan, and coordinate the MCAC days at their schools. The counselors worked with the volunteers from Fallon Health, Hanover Insurance, and UNUM to train them on the college application process so they could then work with students in the weeks leading up to the event and on the event day. The guidance counselors and college access partners also coordinated and communicated with college admissions representatives, who attended events, met with, interviewed, provided many on the spot decisions, and provided many scholarships to students.
As Ms. Parker stated, “The events displayed a lot of dedication, time, and collaboration between the district, school staff, college access partners, community agencies, and the college representatives to give the WPS students exciting opportunities to apply, be accepted, and receive money for college.”
Well done and congratulations to all who assisted in this outstanding process and good luck to our students as they embark on their next future endeavor.
Source: GoLocal Worcester