Area high school students get a taste of the college life – News – The Gardner News

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FITCHBURG — Local high school students have been getting a taste of what college life will be like this summer. As part of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Upward Bound Math and Science program, 39 students from Gardner, Athol and Winchendon have been living in the dorms at Fitchburg State University while taking college-level courses.

The students, who range from freshmen to seniors, have been participating in a combination of dual enrollment college courses and high school enrichment classes, including those in the areas of English and science. The six-week program ends on Aug. 1.

Ralph Hogan, who oversees the program, said the opportunity to live on a college campus while still going to high school is a great way to see what life in higher education is all about. “They get a feel for what it’s like to take courses, living in the dorms, making sure they’re getting up at the right time — it helps them build that independence and prepare them for actually living on a college campus.”

Charles Perrou, who will be entering his junior year at Gardner High School, said he had learned quite a bit about what college life will be like from the program.

“Adjusting to college life is exciting,” he said. “It’s not as hard as I thought it would be — it’s not as time-consuming as I expected. It’s pretty easygoing getting into the college life and the college experience.”

Treshaun Jarrett of Gardner said he was enjoying getting a sense of what the college experience will be like.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing what dorm living is like, as well as meeting a bunch of new people from all of the different schools, and kind of building a bigger social life here,” said Jarrett, who will be entering his junior year at Gardner High School in the fall. “I like a lot of the teachers here; they’re very nice.” Jarrett added there was one thing that particularly surprised him about attending college. “You have to do a lot of walking,” he said.

Monique Merillat, who participated in Upward Bound last year, said she especially enjoyed the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) aspects of the program.

“We had opportunities to build robots last year and now we’re building circuits and learning how they work together,” she said, adding that she had also designed an environmental-based app as part of the program. “We get to design a project by ourselves and then we get an opportunity to present it if our project is solid enough.”

She was surprised at how much independence college students have.

“If we have problems with other students, we have to learn how solve them by ourselves, we have to choose what we eat, we have to get ourselves to class and get our work done. I’m surprised at how much independence there is compared to high school,” said Merillat, who said she plans on attending MWCC and UMass after graduation. “It’s stressful, but at the same time it’s very good to find out who you are.”

Hogan said the majority of students enrolled in the program are classified as “low income and first generation,” meaning they meet federal eligibility guidelines and are among the first in their families to be earning a college degree.

“These are students who are from families whose experience might not be a college-going one,” he explained, adding that Upward Bound is a STEM-based program. “So those students, particularly, who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math can benefit from hands-on programming to help them get a feel for the types of careers available in those fields.”

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