by Lizzy Rager and Alan lewis
If it seems like students are getting younger it may because they are Middle College Students.
Middle College is a program where high school students take both high school and college classes on the Las Positas College campus.
Middle Colleges was first founded in New York in 1974. Las Positas College started Middle College jointly with Dublin Unified School District, Livermore Valley Joint Unified, Pleasanton Unified School District and the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program in 2016.
In its first year, 2016, LPC Middle College had 30 students. This year the program houses 140 students; 70 students are seniors and 70 juniors.
Middle college allows high school students to take required high school courses on campus and take college classes simultaneously. Students are required to take Advancement Via Individual Determination, History, and English high school-level courses and can take up to 11 credits worth of college classes.
Amy Brown, The Middle College Program coordinator says, ”Middle College helps students learn the ins-and-outs of college, including accessing available resources, the importance of reaching out to professors and understanding the course selection and registration process.
The ideal student for Middle College is someone who is ready to take the next step beyond high school; those who want to continue their education after high school and can demonstrate the independence needed to be successful.
Some of the more popular college classes taken by MC students are ones that satisfy both high school and college general education requirements. One popular class taken by Middle College juniors is Math 55.. Middle college students take a wide range of classes: music, sciences, auto mechanics, fire safety, computer science and other classes.
Over 75% of the Middle College students stay at Las Positas to complete their Associates or transfer requirements, and the rest transfer directly to four year universities or other programs. Middle College students have had a one hundred percent graduation rate (thus far). Some students have returned to their home high schools after finding out the program is not for them.
Funding for Middle College is provided by the local school districts Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore, and the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program. Tuition fees and books are provided to Middle College students at no cost.
Middle College differs from AP classes as Middle College is held on the Las Positas campus where the AP classes are held at the high schools. All LPC classes count as college classes where AP classes may or may not count. Students take college classes alongside LPC students and are treated the same. They are graded and regarded the same as a regular college student, they do not get special treatment. Las Positas Students are often unaware there are Middle College students in their classes.
The Middle College Program takes pride in its students. The application process requires applicants to attend many meetings, fill out lots of paperwork, and finally have a direct interview with the Middle College board.
A student does not need to have perfect grades to get into the program, but passion and ambition to put in the work.The college environment forces students to be independent, and it is especially challenging when a student is thrusted into the new environment in the middle of high school. That is why the application process is especially thorough.
Middle College is popular. Each year there has been a waiting list for the 70 spots at LPC.
Many of the community colleges in the bay area have a middle college or similar programs.
Montse Arevalo, a Middle College Senior, gives some advice to those considering the program. “Be open to new experiences and new people—everything in life changes at one point or another. Knowing how to adapt to change helps a lot, and middle college allows you to try many different subjects and stuff that your home high school probably didn’t offer”…”I constantly thank the middle college program for the opportunities that it has given me, and I couldn’t be more grateful”.
Arevalo says that a successful Middle College student knows “how to manage your time and work with others even if you do not like the other person.” The students have to carry more responsibility and independence than a typical high-school student-college professors won’t go out of their way to help you if you are failing their classes and the schedules are specific to each student, unlike the typical rigid 8-3 schedule most high schools follow. The upside of this is that students have way more options to choose from, Arevalo says “picking classes I was actually interested in helped me a lot, so it was really nice.”
She continues to say, “I do think middle college is worth it. If you’re a really busy person, the ability to create your schedule the way you want it to go was super beneficial. It also helps create a sense of independence that will come in hand after graduating.”
A common concern for those considering to apply is that they won’t be able to stay in contact with their high school friends. However, Arevalo has found that “knowing how to adapt to change helps a lot”…”I have amazing friends from my home high school that I still talk to and hang out with, but I also have friends that I met through middle college that I couldn’t imagine my life without.”
One of the pitfalls of Middle College is that the students may be isolated from the camaraderie of high school. If a student is involved in any high school activities scheduling and transiting between LPC and the high school can be difficult.
The TRVOP brochure given to faculty members on Middle College summarizes the Middle College program. The brochure states Middle College allows the students to earn college credits while completing high school requirements. Middle College also gives a solid foundation for navigating the transition to college.