home d.tech life Going to College While in High School

Going to College While in High School

By Alex Lederman

Have you heard the term “concurrent enrollment” around d.tech and wondered what it is? It means being enrolled in d.tech and a local community college, at the same time. Options for taking college level classes are: Skyline College, San Mateo College (CSM) and Cañada College. But before you run out and sign up for a class, it’s good to understand the benefits and drawbacks.

There are many advantages to taking a concurrent enrollment class. First, it’s a great way to do a higher level dive into a passion. Junior, Jonathan Ferreira, who has taken statistics through the College of San Mateo, said, “I’ve always enjoyed math, and taking an extra math course through a community college was a personal choice”. Other students have utilized college classes to fulfill Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) requirements. Junior, Nick Dal Porto, took ceramics at Skyline College last year and related, “It’s nice to have the option to fulfill my VAPA requirement outside of school so I could take more intersession classes in my main area of interest, which for me has been especially intersessions at Oracle”.

The additional grade point that comes with taking college level classes also provides the opportunity to increase your GPA. Junior, Ryan Cen, (who has taken Chinese and Math classes), says, “If you’re interested in taking harder classes, go ahead. It’s nice getting an extra grade point on your transcript.” Credits can also directly transfer to your college transcript. Lastly, in California, taking concurrent enrollment classes at a community college is free to high school students. Considering the cost of college these days, it’s a great way to get some classes out of the way at no cost.

College lecture hall. 

So why don’t all high school kids take tons of college classes, you may be wondering? It sure sounds great! While these classes have many benefits, it is important to understand some of the disadvantages, so you can make an informed decision.

Some classes, especially in core subjects such as math and science, are not geared towards high school students. Ferreira said, “What came as a surprise was the workload; I underestimated the amount of work that came with a higher-level course.” Cen said, “Courses are more challenging and having hard deadlines makes maintaining good grades a lot harder”. Ethan Yu also made an excellent point when comparing college classes to d.tech, specifically: “Taking classes through a community college is a lot different than courses at Design Tech. You have to work hard to get things right the first time because there isn’t the option to just ‘retake’ a test or homework assignment”. Some students have found classes in areas such as VAPA more manageable. Sophomore, Thomas Weese, who is just finishing ceramics through Skyline said, “The workload in ceramics is a piece of cake.”

College class times are also inflexible, and when taking daytime classes, it’s not always easy to fit one into your d.tech schedule. Ferreira relayed, “It’s hard to juggle… Mixing in extra-curricular activities and SAT prep is when things start getting messy”. At d.tech, specifically, afternoon classes can also interfere with intersession. Students can’t miss two weeks of class at the college level, so may have to sacrifice intersession classes. As Amit Harlev found, “College classes really mess with your schedule and which intersession courses you can take”. Note that if d.tech maintains its schedule of afternoon intersession classes, taking college classes in the morning or evening means classes won’t interfere with intersession.

Lastly, except for a small number of college-level classes like Spanish that are offered online on d.tech’s campus, taking a concurrent enrollment class also means figuring out transportation to and from the college campus which can eat into lunch, FIT/lab hours or extracurricular activities.

Taking a concurrent enrollment class is a very personal choice, and if you’re willing to put in the extra required time and work, it may be a great choice for you. If you think you may be interested in taking a college class, a great place to start is to make an appointment with Kathleen Odell (kodell@dtechhs.org) or Nicole Cerra (ncerra@dtechhs.org) to discuss options. And of course, don’t forget to seek out and speak with classmates who have completed college classes to get a student’s point of view!

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