Image via edX

Tuesday marked the launch of online education startup edX’s new high school initiative. The new program offers 26 massive open online courses now available to high school students worldwide to better prepare them for college. As just about 60 percent of first-year U.S. college students are unprepared for postsecondary academics, edX is setting out on a new mission to bridge the readiness gap between college eligibility and preparedness with additional entry-level college course offerings.

Currently, 22 high school courses are open for registration, with all 26 due to come out within a couple of months, edX CEO Anant Agarwal wrote in a blog post. All courses will be free, but there will be a verified certificate option for a fee.

In discussing the potentially large impact these MOOCs could have on the futures of high school students, Agarwal went on to talk about how “these courses could also provide a path to life-long continuous education, where students come into college after having taken their first-year subjects through MOOCs or other AP courses, study on campus for two years, then enter the workforce to gain real-world skills, taking MOOCs, community college courses or other online courses as needed throughout their career.”

The courses cover subject areas including mathematics, science, English and history, enabling kids who don’t have access to AP courses the opportunity to challenge themselves with more advanced coursework.

A total of 22 leading global education institutions submitted proposals to be a part of the high school initiative, but only 14 were chosen. They include edX members Boston University, Georgetown University, MIT, Rice University, TU Delft, UC Berkeley, UT Arlington, UT Austin, Wellesley College and Davidson College. Cooper Union, School Yourself, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, Tennessee Board of Regents and Weston Public High School are among the other organizations involved.