OPINION: Is middle college the right path for students?

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By Kiara Thorp

Many SCHS students have taken an uncommon route for high school education through Middle College.

According to the Middle College website, the Mission Middle College Program (MMCP)  is a collaboration with the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) to offer high school students an alternate path towards educational success. Forty to 50 students from both Wilcox High School and SCHS are sent to Mission Middle College (MECHS) a year.

Students attending Middle College take three high school classes taught by SCUSD instructors on the Mission College campus, and up to 15 units of college classes each semester. MECHS offers students a learning environment where they can take control of their own education by completing high school graduation requirements and accumulating college credits.

Additionally, students have much more flexibility in their schedule. They can decide what time they want to start, if they want to take morning or evening classes. With more flexibility, students can easily participate in many extra curricular activities. This allows students to manage their time better, which relieves stress. MECHS allows students to go off campus for lunch, which gives students more freedom such as they experience in college.

MECHS also meets the University of California A-G admission requirements. The difficult and strong academic culture prepares graduates to be competitively eligible for admission to the University of California, California State University, and other institutions of higher learning.

Middle College is the right choice for students who seek classes and flexibility that SCHS cannot provide.



By Sophia Kennedy

An increasing number of students are choosing to attend Mission Early College High School (MECHS), a dual enrollment program through which individuals can take both high school and college level classes at the Mission College campus in Santa Clara. The college-like environment at MECHS can be attractive to students looking for an alternative high school experience, but those eager to avoid the standard high school system should consider the possible downsides.

Students who attend MECHS must put up with one major drawback: traditional high school activities such as prom, football games, spirit weeks and homecoming are done on a smaller scale, if at all. MECHS students often have to go to other high schools, where they know only a few of the students, to participate in these events. This is unfortunate, as these events are often the highlight of high school. Most after-school activities, such as sports, are not offered at MECHS. Being on a school sports team is a great way to make friends, stay healthy, minimize stress and learn how to work well with others. MECHS also has very few school clubs. Lifelong memories are often made through high school events and activities.

Students who attend or wish to attend MECHS may claim that taking college-level courses will bring them greater success in the college application process. It is easy to see how a hardworking student could believe that having access to higher education will directly enhance their academic skills and therefore make them better prepared for college. What they forget, however, is that college-readiness is not all about academics. As almost every high school mission statement says, graduating students must be well-rounded. Standard high schools are tailored to prepare students for college, both academically and socially.

Every event and activity is directed toward the teenage not adult audience. Imagine a 6th grader choosing to take classes at a nearby high school. Sure, they would be challenged academically, but they would likely not view school as a safe space to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. They would miss a crucial step in their own learning process by being unnecessarily forced to behave like a high schooler while still a middle schooler. This same idea applies to high schoolers taking college classes.

High schools like SCHS, with approximately 2,000 students, are considered large. MECHS, on the other hand, has a maximum enrollment of 120 students. Because of this, it is able to offer a personalized education and small class sizes to their students. This may sound beneficial, but going to a large high school has an important and often overlooked benefit: students can learn to be proactive about their education. Without a counselor always ready to help students through every step of high school, individuals are forced to learn how to advocate for themselves. Students are forced to participate, ask questions and make their own plans if they wish to succeed. Though this lack of guidance may seem detrimental, it actually produces a student who is ready to take on challenges independently in and after college. The best way to achieve this type of self-reliance is by attending a traditional high school.

MECHS provides students with a unique opportunity to access higher education, but not an environment in which they can learn and grow as teenagers. If the goal of high school is to prepare students for both college classes and college life, then the traditional high school education is the way to go.

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