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Tanish Mendki

The increase in concurrent enrollment

With the pandemic causing most schooling to be done online, more high school students are taking community college classes

When senior Nitya Yerraguntla logged into her Canvas account for her General Psychology course at Foothill College during the beginning of the 2020 fall quarter, she needed to complete an “Introduce yourself” discussion assignment. After scrolling through and reading answers posted from her classmates, she was surprised to see the variety of people who were taking the community college course. 

“It was very interesting how some of the people taking the course are mothers … in their late 40s, while I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum as a high school senior,” Yerraguntla said. “[Also], since psychology is [a] very discussion-based science, it will be interesting to see how the different experiences that we’ve faced in life as students will play into our viewpoints [in the topics we learn in class].”

As someone who is interested in pre-medicine enrollment in college, Yerraguntla was intrigued by the General Psychology class at Foothill because it was not offered at MVHS. Yerraguntla also chose to enroll in the class since it would be held entirely online. Despite having online classes, she’s especially excited that Foothill will be implementing project-based assignments, including a preliminary research project that she will be conducting individually. 

Community colleges are seeing an influx in enrollment from high school students, particularly because online schooling makes it easier for them to add more classes onto their workload. However, MVHS counselor Jessica Coscia is concerned about this “overworking” mindset which many MVHS students have.

“I worry though that because [community college classes] are more accessible, [MVHS students] are going to feel like they should take them, and they’re not going to really take the time to realize that their home classes at [MVHS] are the priority,” Coscia said. “[These community college courses] should be extra courses if you have time in your schedule or if it’s something you’re interested in — if you do well or you do poorly, you are still supposed to report them to college.”

Similarly to Yerraguntla, junior Rayan Narayanaswamy is also taking a General Psychology course, but at De Anza College. Despite the seemingly laid back nature of the class due to the absence of live lectures and the nature of online classes, Narayanaswamy emphasizes the amount of work it takes to do well in a college-level class. 

“My friend and I are registered in the same class together, and we were just talking about how we’ve probably taken the most amount of notes in this [General] Psych[ology] class than any other class we have ever taken,” Narayanaswamy said. “This course is so information-heavy, and the quizzes [themselves] are more abstract since you need to apply what you read into the quizzes you take.”

Yerraguntla, too, has experienced a surprisingly hefty workload that comes with online college classes. She finds herself studying for her General Psychology course at Foothill for seven hours a week, while also juggling her regular MVHS schoolwork on top of her college applications. 

“I definitely underestimated the amount of stress and work when [I] signed up for the course,” Yerraguntla said. “Fall registration for Foothill classes was during summer, and during the summer, I was much more relaxed and wasn’t stressing over school and college apps as much as now. This course definitely adds to my stress levels and workload by a significant amount, but I am glad I’m doing it.”

As both Narayanaswamy and Yerraguntla had mentioned how much they underestimated the stress of community college classes, Coscia has some words of advice for students looking into taking a college course during this period of distance learning. 

“You got to make sure it fits into your schedule,” Coscia said. “Yes, you don’t have to go to [the] campus, but you still have to be in attendance for your MVHS classes. Make sure [the class] is something that you’re interested in, but also making sure that you [are able to juggle it with your] life schedule. [We’re in a] pandemic, so things are different, but [since] you’re online all day [for MVHS], then you’re going to [have to] be online even more, plus have to do your homework. The priority needs to be their home classes with us at [MVHS] — that’s what colleges are looking for first. There’s a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration.”

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