Educational programs provide great academic challenges but sacrifice many social opportunities.
Attending University of California, Los Angeles this coming year will cost incoming freshmen $24,589 not including room and board. Priced at only $260 and $466, Middle College and College Now provide high students with the same college courses but distance them from high school social opportunities.
Each year, these educational programs are becoming more popular for students who want a peek at the college experience but who may not be ready to jump into college. High school offers a more social experience ease students into the academic environment. At MVHS, students have the opportunity to join clubs, participate in sports and attend after school programs and social events. Although De Anza provides a great outlet for engaging in college courses, high school students need the chance to let themselves develop properly.
At first glance, College Now seems to be a significant step down from Middle College because of the lack of social life among peers in classes and on campus. Unlike Middle College where students have access to tutoring and student organizations, College Now restricts students in several areas from social interaction opportunities. College Now students cannot participate in sports, apply for valedictorian, receive senior awards or even go to club meetings during school, all of which isolate them from social interaction present in high school.
Looking closer at the experiences of students, it doesn’t seem like either Middle College or College Now students can have an active social life on campus. Instead of meeting every weekday between classes and after school, students will occasionally stay in contact with their friends from MVHS about once a week. The students also lose the opportunity in participating in all the social activities our school has to offer such as clubs, sports and dances . According to seniors Park Limon and Rekha Nagarajan, who attend Middle College and College Now, respectively, life at De Anza separated their academics from their social life. It is necessary that they stay in contact with high school friends because of the difficulty in meeting friends on campus. Even friends who were in the same program would rarely see each other on campus due to the variety of classes they took. According to Limon, other students were generally older than them which made it difficult to socialize.
In terms of the academic side of the programs, they are relatively useful in preparing for college. Limon mentions that students who take advantage of Middle College can receive “an edge with college applications.” Both of the seniors believe that their time in De Anza has given them the upper hand for college in the future because of their experience with time management, college structured classes and independent study. At the same time, the in-class learning won’t have the same human to human contact unless the Middle College or College Now student makes some effort to contact the professor. Independence is as essential as developing social skills.
Many could argue that social life in high school is not exactly ideal at MVHS because of academic pressure from peers to “fit in” as a studious student, and College Now can provide a sanctuary for students to study without any expectation. Though this may be true, every teenager needs to have some social interaction in order to be a healthy individual according to American Academy of Pediatricians. As dedicated as a student is, everyone needs to take a break within their day to socialize and relieve their stress by taking their mind off of school.
From the perspective of a MVHS student, high school does a great job of integrating academics with social life to offer realistic working experiences through their encouragement of group projects, clubs and after school activities. Often in the workplace, people will be required to work with others who may or may not have similar working experiences. Being involved with clubs, publications or even group projects for class allows students to learn how to cooperate with people of different skills. Middle College and College Now students may be understanding independent study at a high level, but will be lacking in the future when they are required to work amongst others.
The Middle College and College Now experience seems positive for those who like to keep their social and academic life separate and are good independent students. But for others, it is probably better to wait for college.