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By GreatSchools Staff
Motivated students often have the option to take courses at the local community college, or in some cases, at local universities. The University of California Extension offers its High School Scholars Program at UC Santa Cruz, Davis and Berkeley. Students who attend high schools near these UC campuses and meet the grade-point and SAT-score requirements can apply to this program to take a limited number of courses at UC during their senior year. High school students may also enroll in lower-division, undergraduate college-level courses (numbered 1-99) through UC Extension with prior approval of their counselor or principal, to earn honors-level and/or transferable college credit.
Many community colleges have coordinated with high schools and high school districts to form "early"or "middle colleges." Early College High Schools (ECHS) are small high schools, usually located on college campuses, from which all students graduate in either four or five years with both a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree. Middle College High Schools (MCHS) are secondary schools, usually grades 10-12, located on college campuses. Some, but not all students, in this program are eligible to take college-level work, but they benefit from attending school on a college campus.
These programs are designed for high school students who are not fitting in at their high school, have good basic skills in reading, writing and math, and are ready for the challenge of doing college-level work. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has sponsored the Early College High School Initiative to provide funding to these programs where students can earn both a high school degree and earn credits toward a college degree at the same time. As of September, 2006, 16,420 students have been enrolled in these programs in 26 states across the country.
A few states have statewide initiatives to create early or middle colleges. The Texas High School Project is a collaboration of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the University of Texas System, The University of Texas at San Antonio, East Central Independent School District (ISD), Southside ISD and Southwest ISD. The California Early College High School is a partnership between the California Department of Education and the Chancellor's Office for the California Community Colleges to support the Early College High School Initiative of the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Both the California and Texas programs are also part of the Gates Foundation initiative.
At Canada College, a public community college in Redwood City, California, for example, Middle College has been so successful that it plans to double its size from serving 60 to 120 students over the next two years. "Students who might not achieve in a regular high school are achieving here," says Tom Mohr, interim president at Canada College. "I have yet to meet a student or parent who wasn't pleased. And our college professors appreciate the program; they like having these young people in classes."
Students take both high school and college-level courses at the college as part of this Middle College program. Many of the courses they take allow them to receive both credit toward a high school diploma and college credit. As a result, many students graduate from Middle College with a high school diploma and a significant number of college credits. The added bonus is that since they are enrolled as high school students, they aren't required to pay tuition for the college courses.
Sarah Aires, a recent graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, attended Middle College at the College of San Mateo in California. She entered UC Santa Cruz with 28 college credits. "It was a great program. It allowed me to get done with high school quickly and it showed the colleges that I applied to that I could do college-level work," she says. "Once I entered UC Santa Cruz, I didn't have to take lots of prerequisite undergraduate courses where there were 500 students in a class."
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