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River Valley Community College Launches Pathway2Success Program
Published Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Students from Claremont area middle schools participate in RVCC’s First Annual Kids in Technology event. Photo: RVCC

A new pilot program at River Valley Community College (RVCC) in Claremont will allow high school students to begin earning college credit as soon as they step into their first class as first year high school students. Slated to begin in the fall of 2017, Pathway2Success connects students to college-level classes so that by the time they complete high school, they are only a few courses shy of an Associate Degree in Information Technology and one step closer to helping close an important skills gap in the region’s workforce.

“Over the next four years, we hope to prove that this unique adaptation of traditional early college programs is a benefit for students and the community,” says RVCC interim president and VPof academic affairs Ali Rafieymehr, who is planning to teach a couple of the courses in the new program. “We know the spark of excitement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) often happens early in a student’s career, so the sooner we can nurture that, the more successful the outcomes, both for students and their communities.”

The program’s first planned area of focus is in a new Associate of Science degree, Information Technology, once approved by the Community College System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees. Rafieymehr, plans to recruit a cohort of 20 students entering Claremont’s Stevens High School and Newport High School for the new Pathway2Success program, which will be offered at no cost to students or their families. The 40+ college credits students can earn – or about 13 classes – will be funded by community donations during the pilot program.

“This is more than a program that helps students prepare for college,” said Patricia Barry, principal of Stevens High School in Claremont. “It prepares them for careers, for real life, and for making a difference in their communities. It’s an incredible opportunity to reach students during the formative education years when their drive for achievement is only eclipsed by their curiosity and drive to learn.”

Integration with high school curriculum is crucial, and RVCC is working with administrators and educators at state and local levels to ensure the college level courses map appropriately to high school classes. Students would begin taking college courses as part of the Pathway2Success in the fall and spring semesters of their first and sophomore years. For the last two years of high school, students would take two college courses each spring and fall, and complete the program with an internship or capstone project in the summer of their senior year. High achieving students could reasonably complete their high school career with enough credits to bring home an Associate Degree along with their diplomas.

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