Middle College provides junior with freedom

January 26, 2010 — by Albert Gu and Karthik Sreedhara

Junior Annaliese Parker, frustrated with what she perceived as the restrictive system at SHS, transferred to Middle College earlier this year because she wanted more freedom.

While on the campus of West Valley College this year, Parker has been able to take classes such as infectious diseases, human anatomy and counseling. Besides the required core classes—English and history—students get to choose what classes they want to take from a wide variety of courses, and even when they want to schedule them, as opposed to the high school’s randomized schedules.

“The high school had a rigid path of classes limiting what you could or could not be in and had almost no flexibility, especially in places such as the math curriculum,” she said.

Besides being unhappy with the inflexibility she saw at the high school, she was also unhappy with the unpredictable variability in teachers—having an “easy” or “hard” teacher for a subject could make or break your grade. As opposed to college, where every class’s teacher is known beforehand, in high school it is easy to end up with a teacher who does not suit a student’s learning style. High school teachers also often assign a large amount of busy work, said Parker.

“At West Valley, your grade is dependent on you, and if you aren’t doing your work, then you’re going to fail,” said Parker. “Although there isn’t much homework assigned, the teachers expect that you do your work and are learning, and your results reflect the amount of work you put in.”

Other benefits of Middle College include longer breaks. Since West Valley runs on a semester system with winter and summer terms, Parker gets a 6-week winter break because she doesn’t have a winter session. Additionally, the flexibility of scheduling means that although she has 12-hour class days twice a week, she has 3-4 day weekends every week. And although she still has to take SATs, she doesn’t need any AP classes since she’s taking actual college courses.

Parker has nothing but praise for Middle College. While she fondly remembers Saratoga High and maintains her high school friendships, she has found her own path of freedom and plans to continue on it. She also looks forward to meeting new students from other schools that are also doing the program.

“I can take classes that actually interest me, get AP credit and have a bunch of free time at the end of the day to do the things I like to do,” said Parker. “There’s just so much more freedom. If anyone was thinking about going to Middle College, I would recommend them to go.”