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Middle college: Students explore further education

For M-A students that feel overwhelmed by the huge student body, or simply want to take classes that M-A does not have, the Middle College program at Cañada College offers a unique path to pursue higher education, but sooner than a traditional university. At the nearby campus, students have a chance to explore advanced courses while still fulfilling A-G graduation requirements and becoming part of their M-A graduating class.

Senior Cameron Lindsey began Middle College last fall. “For me, M-A was too big and I felt like I couldn’t make a personal connection with any of the people or teachers,” says Lindsey. “I went to middle college because I wanted to be in a classroom where every person wanted to be there, and everyone’s passionate about their education.”

In a typical middle college day, students have their high school English and history classes from 12:30 to 3:05 in the afternoon. Part of the middle college program includes designated time for college applications, tutoring, and getting to know the other students. College classes can be anywhere from early morning to late at night; this gives students another level of choice in their schedule. However, for students who are not highly self-motivated and organized, middle college is not the right place. “I liked how there’s no bell, scheduling the day for you,” says Lindsey.

Alex Nemzek is another senior at Middle College, for many of the same reasons that Lindsey likes it. “There’s a lot of increased freedom,” he says. “I think that it’s a good fit if you don’t feel very connected.” Nemzek, who hails from Sequoia High School, went to a private middle school and knew very few people coming into freshman year. Like Lindsey, he began middle college at the beginning of his junior year.

The Middle College students studying in a classroom. Photo credit: Cameron Lindsey

At Middle College, students can pair classes together that they might not otherwise be allowed to at their high school. For instance, at M-A, students may not take other science classes with AP Environmental Science, but at Middle College, more freedom is granted in the schedule and classes are mostly interest-based. Additionally, more classes are offered since middle college pairs with the numerous electives that Cañada offers. Nemzek is enjoying his piano elective, while Lindsey takes oceanography as her science class and yoga for physical education credits.

Students at Middle College may still participate in extracurricular programs at their original high school, such as performing in school plays or competing on sports teams. Nemzek played basketball and went to formal, while Lindsey went to her junior prom. “You’re not as connected,” says Nemzek. “It can be more socially isolating — there’s less social vibrancy, but you still have friends from your home school.”

Middle College students enjoy all the perks that college students have at Cañada. Middle College students can take an active part in the student council, and in the past, have even become student body president. “You really become part of the campus,” says Lindsey. “They do a good job of that.” There is on-campus dining, including coffee, as well as a bookshop where students can purchase necessities as well as snacks. At the Cañada Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Center, students offer free tutoring to others.

Both Nemzek and Lindsey feel that middle college is not sufficiently advertised. “I wish that it had been advertised on M-A Today,” says Lindsey, who went to a presentation at the district office and decided to try it only after seeing people she knew. “A lot of people don’t even know that it exists.”

The deadline for application for the fall semester passed in March. However, interested students should mark these dates for information sessions this fall, regarding application for the spring semester.

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