SUNY initiates early college program

SUNY high school partnership program offers underrepresented students new learning opportunities

The SUNY system officially launched 11 of its new "Smart Scholars" Early College High School partnerships at a Feb. 22 event hosted by Hudson Valley Community College.

Early College High Schools are small schools that offer opportunities for students who are historically underrepresented in higher education. The centers allow students to work toward a high school diploma and simultaneously receive up to two years of college credit without paying tuition. Some students may even be eligible for an associate's degree upon completion of the program.

"What makes this initiative especially unique is that it makes college a reality for those students who are at risk of dropping out of high school and are historically underrepresented in college," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. "It's a giant leap toward advancing SUNY's commitment to working with our partners in schools and communities to strengthen the education pipeline from cradle to career."

"I think this is a really interesting approach," sophomore Matt Farrell said. "I would think it's an incentive to stay in school and excel."

SUNY projects that about 2,570 students will benefit immediately from the partnerships. The first group of students will enroll this September.

The partnerships were made possible through a $6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The campuses that will offer the program are: the University at Albany, the College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, Erie Community College, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Hudson Valley Community College, Monroe Community College, the College at Old Westbury, Onondaga Community College, Schenectady Community College and Westchester Community College.