In a new program connecting the community and campus, Montclair High School students are taking courses at Montclair State University as part of a dual enrollment program helping them earn college credits while still in high school.
The opportunity, says Gabe Wallerstein, one of 26 students from Montclair High School attending classes, “has made my senior year the best year of school by a long shot.”
According to Jeff Gant, the University’s Director of Undergraduate Admissions, the program, Montclair Academic Dual Enrollment (known as MADE), allows high school students to take courses across nearly all areas of campus, including Computer Science, Math, English Writing, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, German, Music, and Earth and Environmental Studies.
“To experience a college environment but still go to high school is extremely helpful and relieving of some anxiety and stress students may have about college,” Wallerstein says.
Lora Billings, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, says her team helped to coordinate the new dual enrollment program with Montclair Science teacher Lynn English and Dustin Bayer, director of School Counseling. “They have been very helpful in recruiting students and providing advisement. MHS Principal Tony Grosso has also been instrumental in revising the student class schedules to allow time in the afternoon for this new opportunity,” Billings says.
The program allows students to take two courses at Montclair State in both the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. These 12+ credits count toward their high school transcripts and have the possibility for use toward a college degree.
Tuition for STEM courses has been covered this academic year by generous scholarships from the Josh and Judy Weston Family Foundation and other advocates of STEM education. The Montclair Board of Education further subsidizes tuition for students.
Kayla Caban, a Montclair High student taking Biology, Human Life and Physical Anthropology college classes, says the program is “an opportunity of a lifetime,” allowing her to gain experience in a college classroom setting and experiment with different subjects.
“I dreamed of becoming a doctor and majoring in one of the sciences was my goal, but I wasn’t sure,” Caban says. “With this program, I was able to see the level of work ethic and knowledge I needed to be successful as a science major.”
MADE is a specific agreement between Montclair State University and Montclair High School and comes under the umbrella of Montclair State’s Early College Program. The University also currently has a dual enrollment agreement with Clifton High School and, according to Gregory Nasser, assistant director for Early College Programs, Undergraduate Admissions, is in talks to add three more agreements with area high schools.
“These programs are a fantastic opportunity for students to get a jump-start on earning college credits toward their degree,” says Nasser. “We are one of the few schools in the tri-state area that have a program as structured as ours with the amount of classes in all disciplines that we can provide during fall, spring and summer sessions.”
“The M.A.D.E program has allowed students the opportunity to explore the experience of course work at a university level while actually partaking in the full university classroom/campus experience,” says Montclair High School Principal Tony Grosso. “Unlike other dual credit programs, M.A.D.E has provided students the ability to understand the college/university life and has enabled them the ability to incorporate these experiences when making the decision on where they will pursue their higher education. This experience is priceless! This would not be possible without the support and organization of Dustin Bayer and Lynn English who are committed to expanding this program allowing students to engage in this unique endeavor.”
Wallerstein adds, “My classes are a healthy balance of hard work and fun. Isn’t that what college is supposed to be like?”