Falcon Focus: Junior chooses Middle College and sleeps well at night

May 24, 2018 — by Esha Lakhotia

Junior Leena Elzeiny talks about her choice to go to middle college.

Junior Leena Elzeiny walked into orientation at West Valley College last May, making new friends and signing up for classes she was excited about, such as sociology and boxing.

Elzeiny is one of several students each year who breaks out of the usual path to graduation and takes an alternate route. In her case, she started participating in the Middle College program in junior year.

“Middle College is basically high school on a college campus, which has its perks,” Elzeiny said. “I don't have AP tests, everything is for college credit and my GPA on the UC system counts my other classes on a 5.0 scale.”

Elzeiny was introduced to the Middle College program at the end of last February during the annual sophomore guidance presentation in the McAfee Center. An application was handed out and she had little over two weeks to put together the required materials. The application included two essays, two letters of recommendation, a graded essay and many signatures, followed by a 20-minute interview by the admission officers

Elzeiny is required to take English and History every year — two classes required for high school graduation — and 11 additional units in whichever subjects she pleases.

Elzeiny has seen many benefits to switching to Middle College, including a more personalized program.

“Classes tend to move at a much more reasonable pace and there are tremendous resources like amazing professors and peers available to the average student to ensure success,” Elzeiny said. “I actually get eight hours of sleep regularly and I can get experience in any  future major with every class I take.”

Even though Elzeiny enjoys her experience at West Valley College, she still misses some aspects of a regular high school, such as the reliance on teachers to keep students on track.

“I see Ms. Keys assigning entire papers over the span of weeks, an accumulation of drafts and outlines and thesis statements,” Elzeiny said. “Here, there is an expectation that we can budget time for our own essays and research projects. Many people become agitated with Ms. Keys's constant checks, but it’s what I miss.”

Even though Elzeiny attends Middle College, she still has some ties to the school. She participates in robotics and is part of the lacrosse team.

Elzeiny recognizes the expectations that arise from living in Saratoga and accepts the fact that while Middle College doesn’t assign loads of homework and busywork, it does prepare her for a career past high school.

“Middle College gives me the challenge I need without the sleep-deprivation that has become synonymous with success in Saratoga,” Elzeiny said. “I love the freedom it offers.”