Q&A: What’s to know about College Now and Middle College

MIddle College students collaborating in De Anza Community College. Source: fuhsd.org

MIddle College students collaborating in De Anza Community College. Source: fuhsd.org

Shuyi Qi

Seniors Rekha Nagarajan and Parker Limon describe their experiences finishing high school at De Anza College.

 

MIddle College students collaborating in De Anza Community College. Source: fuhsd.org
MIddle College students collaborating in De Anza Community College. Source: fuhsd.org

[col type=”1_2″ class=””]

[title type=”h3″]Middle College: Senior Parker Limon[/title]

Middle College is a program that allows FUHSD students to earn college and high school credit at the same time, requiring that applicants complete the FUHSD math requirement: Algebra 1 and Geometry. Although students get to choose from a diverse selection of courses, they have to take two high school classes to graduate from high school.

 

El Estoque: When did you first start Middle College?

Parker Limon: I started my junior year of high school.

EE: Why did you decide to take Middle College?

PL: I just felt like I wasn’t really doing my best at MVHS and I wasn’t a big fan of the environment there. I was really interested in architecture at the time and there aren’t really many classes at MVHS that I could take that are related to that.

EE: What are some of the advantages of Middle College?

PL: The classes you could take are really up to you. You can choose your professors and you could choose the times. I think it’s really good because there’s a lot bigger of a mix of people I guess, so there’s a lot more diversity. I took a furniture design class last quarter and there were a lot of people in the class who were closer to my mom’s age than mine. It was just kind of cool hearing what they have to say.

EE: So what are some of the disadvantages?

PL: It’s kind of hard to keep up with friends at MVHS and like at other high schools just because the De Anza and MVHS schedules are pretty different, like we have breaks at different times. Coming to Middle College, I realized that I had to really self-motivate myself with all these college classes and actually take my own time to study and to get really good time management and [deal] with my own schedule. So I had to learn how to do that. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it was interesting to adjust to that.

EE: Was the experience at Middle College different from what you thought it was going to be when you first signed up?

PL: I think when I started Middle College, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I just was happy to hear anything that wasn’t regular MVHS stuff so I kind of had an open mind coming into it.

EE: So what are some of the differences and similarities between Middle College at De Anza and MVHS?

PL: I guess there’s a lot of differences with the amount of classes you could take, and some classes there’s 120 students there and it’s a lecture class so the teacher-student interaction is different. The amount of homework I guess is the same, but it’s a different kind of homework. At MVHS you actually have things that you have to turn in and at De Anza in a lot of the classes and in the Middle College classes there’s a lot assigned like reading but you don’t really have anything to turn in. It’s kind of up to you to do it, to keep up with it.

De Anza is so big academically because there’s so many classes. You could take child development classes, how to be a teacher and you can take psychology and there’s a lot of science classes. And I guess socially, it’s not like MVHS. At MVHS, at lunch, everybody’s there so it’s like “O.K. I can find my friends.” At De Anza it’s a little bit harder to meet up with your friends because you’re all taking different classes, so that was another thing.

EE: How do you keep up with your friends? Is it just through text or phone calls or something like that?

PL: Yes, it was pretty much just like texting and social media so I could keep up with them. But I feel like I have to put more effort into it. Whereas in MVHS, I would just catch up with them during brunch or whatever.

EE: Do you have any advice for anybody thinking about going to Middle College?

PL: I think it’s such a great opportunity and it really gives you an edge with college apps which is really great. I think, in applying, it’s just really important to be totally honest and you want to be yourself because the teachers who are in charge of recruiting people, they’re really just looking for people who will thrive in the program and who will really fit into it. So it’s not a thing that’s for everyone.

 

[/col]

[col type=”1_2″ class=””]

[title type=”h3″]College Now: Senior Rekha Nagarajan[/title]

College Now is a educational program that allows FUHSD high school seniors to earn a year of college credits while fulfilling high school credit requirements for graduation. The program, which takes place in De Anza Community College, will consists of a minimum of nine courses, with a maximum of 12 units a quarter.

 

El Estoque: Why did you decide to apply for College Now?

Rekha Nagarajan: I didn’t hate MVHS, but it was getting a little boring for me and I just wanted something different. Every year just kind of seemed the same, the same people, the same kind of classes. At College Now it was just a different kind of experience. For me, I need something new to keep me motivated so by doing this it was a reminder, it was a new start, a fresh start, a clean slate and that’s what keeps me motivated to learn.

EE: Were you perhaps a bit apprehensive of applying, in case if things didn’t turn out the way you thought it would?

RN: Yeah, I was really scared. At first I didn’t even want to [apply]. At first it was just my dad [saying], “You should look into it.” And so when a lot of people asked me if they should apply,] I always tell them, “You have to do it for you.” After looking into this program and during the application process I realized that this is a really good thing for me, but at first I was definitely scared that I’m going to lose my friends. It was pretty scary but I’m really glad I did it.

EE: So what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being part of the College Now program?

RN: Well one main advantage is that I get a lot more free time for myself because you get to customize your schedule and a lot of classes, like some classes will just post the powerpoint that they’ll go over online so you don’t even have to go to class, you can just look online and come for tests. A lot of classes it’s just, because you’re making your own schedule, you get to go home on your own time.

I have a lot more free time than kids at MVHS because at MVHS you go to school for eight hours and that chunk of time is all lost, but for me I only have three classes, about three to four classes each semester, and even though the classes move at a faster pace you have a lot more free time. And I get to take a bigger variety of classes. At high school you can only take one science, one math, one whatever each [subject] each semester, or not even, it’s like each year pretty much. But I get to take chemistry and physics and physiology all in one year and that’s because every quarter I get to change it up.

EE: What are some of the similarities and differences between College Now and MVHS?

RN: At De Anza, your grade is mostly made up of your midterm and your final and I guess you get a lot of, well what I like to call “fluff,” like participation and homework, things like that that can still keep your grade afloat and we have projects and things like that. So at De Anza, it’s a little more pressure to do well on those few tests but at the same time because I don’t have to do homework or things like that I have a lot more free time throughout the year and then during those times where I have to study for those tests is where I have to really buckle down and study.

The kids at De Anza, they’re not there to make friends, it’s more like they’re to get their credit and graduate, so their priorities are a little different which I like. But you still get to meet a lot of different types of people. For example I have a lot of people in my classes who work and have a family at home or people who are trying to live on their own for the first time and it’s a lot of different perspectives that you get to see because I’m at De Anza.

EE: How have you been able to keep in touch with your friends?

RN: Well I’m still part of the MVHS Bhangra team so every Friday to school practice. But what I usually do is that every Friday I’ll come during lunch and I’ll see my friends and hang out in somebody’s sixth and seventh period until Bhangra practice which is after school. I get to see people a lot more often than I thought I would. I try to come to as many [school] events as possible and try to come to dances and I try to stay involved spirit-wise and that really helps me keep in touch with people.

 

EE: So what have you learned so far at the College Now program?

RN: I think it’s taught me that I have to be in charge of my success and if I want to do well, I have to make the time, I have to meet teachers outside of class for help and I think that’s a good thing to learn because in high school.

I mean things aren’t given to you on a silver platter in high school either, but I think it’s like teachers take it upon themselves to help kids as much as they can and even though at De Anza they do too, it’s mostly up to you, like you have to ask and you have to keep on top of schedule. No one reminds you when tests are, no one reminds you about these things, no one reminds you about due dates, so it’s all up to you. I’m pretty bad at that so I’m really glad I did this. It has taught me a lot about scheduling and making sure I’m on top of things.

EE: You mentioned many times that being part of College Now you have more free time now. Do you think that the program has contributed to your overall happiness?

RN: Yeah it has I think. I’ve been able to do a lot more extracurriculars. Even though I’m a second semester senior, I still have to work for my transcripts because colleges will see these grades, I think it’s made me a lot happier because I get to meet more different people and I think it’s made me mature in general.

EE: What is some advice that you can give to current applicants and people who might be interested in applying?

RN: I would definitely recommend trying to interact with your high school as much as possible because if I didn’t come to games or if I didn’t stay with my high school I don’t think this would be fun for me at all. If you’re applying I hope you have the intention of staying close with your high school and trying to integrate. Take the best of both worlds. Get your social life in high school but then get the academic benefit of this program.

EE: Do you think that College Now has made you better prepared for college?  

RN: Definitely. A lot of my friends in college complain about finals. I understand that because I’ll be able to mold my schedule around a college-like schedule. It’s taught me a lot about time management which is a big part of college and managing your time effectively because, as I’ve said before, there are no due dates so you have to schedule everything yourself and I feel like that’s a big jump that a lot of high schoolers have to go through when they go to college. I don’t know if I’m more prepared but I feel like I might be when I go to college in the fall.

EE: I remember you said earlier on, you took College Now because you perhaps didn’t really like your experience at MVHS. Could you explain how you felt that and yet you still feel very school spirited?

RN: I feel like when I was in high school, it just felt like the same thing everyday over and over. It was just repeating itself over and over and it got really boring and monotonous to me. But now, every time I see my friends it’s not normal anymore. It’s like “Oh my God I haven’t seen you in a like a week and this is really exciting for me!”

All the things that are normal in high school are now really exciting for me. Before, going to a football game was just like “Oh yeah lets go to a football game” [in a bored tone]. But now it’s what I look forward to at the end of the week. Or maybe it’s homecoming week and it’s like “Oh yay” [in a bored tone]. But now it’s like “Oh my gosh, this is so exciting, all these food drives, I want to come help and bring food!”

So all these things that I used to take for granted are fun for me now and I think that’s why I’m able to stay so spirited because I don’t have it at De Anza. So every time when things like that happen it becomes a bigger deal for me because I don’t have that access anymore.

 [/col]