Right now in the middle of somewhere: a look at Middle College and College Now

Jaime Chu

March is a beginning of an end and a beginning of another beginning. While beginning to conclude the current school year, students in grade nine to 11 begin to select courses for next year.

Alongside the offerings on the purple course sheet, Middle College and College Now are open for students' consideration and application now.
In lieu of a regular high school curriculum, Middle College and College Now (formerly College Advantage) offer alternative curriculum of education for juniors and seniors. Although both programs give students opportunities to enroll in De Anza College as part of their high school career, the two programs are in reality more different than alike.
 
Middle College and College Now are collaborations between the Fremont Union High School District and De Anza College. Both programs offer high school students a college curriculum to earn both high school and college credits by enrolling in De Anza classes. However, in addition to De Anza classes, Middle College students take English and social science classes with Middle College advisers and other Middle College students. This allows Middle College students an interactive community with peers which College Now students do not have.Image

"You are a lot more independent in College Now," College Now student and senior Tal Dror said. Dror focused her curriculum on the sciences by taking advanced science classes.

Without a peer support system other than weekly meetings with guidance counselors, College Now students spend their senior year as full-time De Anza students. They cannot participate in MVHS sports or clubs whereas Middle College students can still play for MVHS sport teams and participate in some extra-curricular activities.


For Middle College student junior Laura Wenus, the quarter class system allows her to take a wider variety of classes.

"You have options!" Wenus said. "You are not in for the whole semester."

Unlike high school classes, a typical college class is compressed to a 12-week quarter instead of semester classes.

"It is also good to get a head start to fulfill [undergraduate] general education requirements or if you know what you want to do later in life," Dror said. "Or if you don't know what to do, you can explore."
 
Middle College accepts 35 juniors and seniors each year and College Now, a much more competitive program, accepts 35 seniors district-wide. College Now also requires applicants to have at least a 3.5 GPA. Twelfth grade Middle College instructor Heather Porter explained the stricter requirements are because College Now is a much more self-disciplined and self-driven program.

"It's a different learning style," Dror said. "At De Anza, it's less about memorization and test-taking. You learn by actually doing it."

Wenus chose Middle College because she did not know that juniors can continue to study at De Anza in College Now next year after Middle College. Essentially, all participating students reapply to Middle College, or College Now if they chose to, after they complete junior year.

Both Dror and Wenus agreed that spending a year at De Anza gave them a unique experience that allow them to focus on learning for learning's sake on a higher level. College can come sooner than the summer after senior year.