High School to Higher Education
August 15, 2017
Recent Los Altos graduate Alan Ryder, ‘17, had struggled to find a friend group he identified himself with and was unable to maintain high grades before enrolling in Foothill Middle College.
At Middle College, students only take classes at Foothill and are also required to take English and history with their other Middle College peers. However, after their required English and history classes students have the freedom to choose classes out of Foothill’s course catalogue.
Through a lunch informational meeting about Middle College, Alan found himself interested in the program and loved the idea he could tailor his schedule to himself.
“The first thing that kind of got my attention was the freedom of the times of classes, that’s kind of one of the biggest factors,” Alan said. “I can be really well understood in a certain subject but if I’m not being tested on it at the right time of day, it’s completely worthless, because I’m not ready to be engaged.”
For him, enrollment marked a drastic lifestyle change.
“I would play after school,” Alan said. “All the time I’d spend at my house would be on the computer. When I started going to Middle College, I stopped playing computer games almost completely.”
He attributes his sudden stop in playing video games to the growth mindset environment Middle College provides and drives his and his peers’ passion for learning. Alan grew emotionally and improved academically.
Alan feels brave to step into the future without a definite plan, a strength he’s gained from Foothill’s Middle College.
“At Foothill I’ve really learned a lot of life skills and I’ve learned to feel less vulnerable about what could be going on in the future. That I can really take the reigns; [I can] drive my own future and create it to be what I want it to be.”
Having already published three books, senior Trinity Suh keeps a packed schedule from school to extracurriculars. Her enrollment in Foothill College’s Dual Enrollment program has allowed her the flexibility to explore her love for writing without sacrificing her school work.
Trinity grew frustrated with the tedium and atmosphere of traditional high school.
“I didn’t want to feel the stress of SAT and college apps,” Trinity said. “On top of that, I was having a lot of friend stress, just drama and tension.”
The Dual Enrollment program allows students to experience academic independence by enrolling in both their high school and Foothill College. Similar to an undergraduate curriculum, Dual Enrollment allows students to customize their schedules.
For Trinity, the idea of the Dual Enrollment program was first brought up by Principal Wynne Satterwhite, who encouraged her to pursue the process. Previously, Trinity had considered boarding schools on the east coast, but decided that the Dual Enrollment program would be better suited to her academic and extracurricular interests.
“I can work, and I can pursue music and writing as well as go to school,” Trinity said. “Additionally, because I only take two to three classes a quarter, it is actually easier to keep my grades up while doing all those other things, rather than having to deal with seven or eight classes.”
In addition, as a student at Foothill, Trinity can opt out of taking various standardized tests for colleges. Having finished her required credits early, she will graduate in the fall. After high school she plans on staying another year at Foothill to finish her Associate’s Degree and then will transfer to a four year university.
For Trinity and Alan, the traditional high school experience stifled their abilities to learn due to its rigid scheduling, adding extra stress and prevented them from enjoying their lives.
“I think figuring out what’s best for you is really healthy, and sometimes high school isn’t really the right environment for some people”, said Trinity. “So if someone is feeling stressed, or depressed, or there’s a lot of tension with friends and stuff, they should definitely talk to their counselors about different options.”