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WORCESTER - Thousands of high school students applied to college, and more than 700 received acceptances, during a greatly expanded college admissions program hosted by the Worcester public schools this month.
The Massachusetts College Access Celebration, now in its fourth year, aims to help high school seniors around the state advance or, in some cases, just begin their post-graduation plans. With the help of school counselors, college admissions workers and volunteers from local companies at MCAC events, which are held at participating schools during the school day, students can apply to college, find out how to improve their chances of getting in, and even receive on-the-spot acceptances and scholarship offers.
This year represented a major expansion for the program in Massachusetts, with nearly 40 participating schools, up from around 20 the year before. Leading that effort was Worcester, which itself expanded from three participating high schools to all nine schools and alternative programs in the district enrolling high school students this year.
"Worcester is the first large district (in the state) that's done this districtwide," said Robert Dais, state director of the federally funded Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, which is spearheading the MCAC campaign in Massachusetts. "We're very excited about that. They're pioneering something here."
Superintendent Maureen Binienda, who oversaw the largest MCAC participation site in the city when she was principal of South High Community School, said her positive experience with the program convinced her to try it out at other schools.
When she became superintendent last spring, "it was one of my goals to expand the college-going culture at every school," she said. "We'd done it at South for three years, and each year I saw ... how it completely helped the spirit of the school."
According to a schedule provided by the district, MCAC events were held each school day between Dec. 13 and Dec. 22 at different sites, which this year included South High, North High School, Doherty Memorial High School, Burncoat High School, Worcester Technical High School, Claremont Academy, University Park Campus School, the Gerald Creamer Center, and the Alternative School at St. Casimir's. In total, students at those events submitted 5,045 college applications, and colleges offered 770 acceptances and a combined $2.1 million in scholarship aid.
State program helps thousands of Worcester students apply to college – Worcester Telegram & Gazette