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FUHSD modifies College Now program

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FUHSD modifies College Now program

Jessica Li

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Faced with decreased interest and declining enrollment in their program, the College Now program board decided to adapt.

At the beginning of second semester, FUHSD presented juniors with a certain amount of course credits of opportunity to attend a modified version of the College Now program in their senior year. The 2018-2019 pilot program allows high school seniors to attend both high school and De Anza College and earn college credits.

“I think the key takeaway is that in all of our alternative programs—and we have quite a few in FUHSD—we are constantly looking at ways to make the student experience better,” said Alison Coy, the director of educational options for College Now. “We are always evaluating our programs to make sure that we are offering the best programs to meet the needs of our students. In the case of College Now, enrollment began to decline about 8 years ago and has stayed quite low. This [showed] us that it is a program that isn’t necessarily meeting the needs of most district students.”

To increase interest and enrollment in the program, Coy, FUHSD Guidance Counselor Tamara Emmert and other De Anza and FUHSD staff consulted together on the concerns of both current and prospective students surrounding the program. Taking into account factors on why some were hesitant to apply, such as the long days at De Anza and the minimal high school involvement while attending the program, they aimed to adapt the program to address such apprehensions and increase students’ motivation to apply to the 2018-2019 pilot program.

“It can be okay to run a program that is targeted at smaller groups of students, but it is important to at least consider adaptations that might give it broader appeal,” said Coy.

College Now, a collaboration between De Anza College and FUHSD, started in 1996 to accommodate students who wanted more independence to take college courses, but who did not fit the existing Middle College program. Instead of only attending their high school during senior year, College Now students take classes at De Anza College to earn college course credits, explore their interests and begin to adjust to college life. Unlike Middle College, a similar program which entails having students take both De Anza and high school classes starting their junior year, College Now is open only to seniors.

“College Now is really good if you’re looking to deepen your studies in certain aspects,” said senior Hannah Faris, a current College Now student. “If there are certain classes that you want to take a lot of, you can do that. Middle College is better for someone looking for a new community, if they just don’t fit in [at their high school], or if they want to try something different, but still want that community.”

With three quarters per year, amounting to an average of nine total college courses, the program costs around between $1500 and $3000 plus $49 of basic fees. In addition to having the option to double up on certain subject courses, such as taking two science classes at the same time, students essentially learn the equivalent of one year of a high school course in twelve weeks.

College Now students have the opportunity to experience the independence of college life while remaining in the local area. They get priority registration for classes over De Anza students and are able to choose their teachers and professors. College Now also holds mandatory meetings in the fall for students to receive support for college applications.

“The great thing about College Now is that students have the freedom to choose their own schedules,” said senior Harini Narayan, who also attends College Now. “For instance, this quarter, I am taking 4 classes, and every day, my first class begins at 10:30 a.m. With College Now, students are allowed much more flexibility when it comes to daily schedules.”

Current College Now students can only take classes from De Anza College and are not allowed to be involved in their high school other than participating in major events, such as prom and graduation. Next year, the program will introduce new revisions that will allow more students to be eligible for the program while still remaining involved in more everyday high school activities, such as holding club officer positions and participating in afterschool sports. Unlike previous years, when the program did not allow students to go to high school campuses at any time, College Now will now permit students to go to their high schools during lunch time for club officer meetings or other important school activities they are involved with.

While the program aims to admit 50 FUHSD seniors, or 10 per school, compared to the current 18 total students enrolled in the program, eligibility requirements have become much more lenient. Any FUHSD juniors who have accumulated over 200 course credits and will only need to take Economics, U.S. Government and a fourth year of English to graduate can apply for the program. Applications no longer require a minimum GPA, essays, teacher evaluations or interviews; interested students can simply fill out a short questionnaire on the College Now website to compete in a lottery to win a spot in the program.

“I thought it would be interesting that you could take a year of college [in College Now] and finish it off in your senior year,” said junior Ishika Kamchetty. “The idea of finishing college at a much cheaper price, as well as getting it done in high school, seemed like a very plausible option for me, just because those credits would count toward my college and I would get a jump start on the major I’d possibly like to do.”

Furthermore, the program will allow students to take their Economics, U.S. Government and fourth year English course at their high school, but solely during periods 1 and 2. Students will be required to set their De Anza class schedules around the FUHSD class schedule, including, but not limited to, block days, rally schedules and other special days. The rest of their classes, however, must be taken at De Anza.

Current College Now students, however, have expressed discontentment with the program’s changes next year, believing that the drastic changes to the program are a betrayal to its original purpose of serving independent students ready to take on college life. In response, although they will not make any new changes to next year’s program, Coy and the College Now board will survey the pilot program next year to see what went well and what didn’t and modify the program accordingly.

“I think that even with declining enrollment, College Now should have tried to tailor to the certain types of students they appeal to now and are being disingenuous and not true to the program [with the new changes],” said Faris. “College Now didn’t necessarily have to change the program entirely, but instead could have just marketed the program more to students, such as letting more students know about the program, such as presenting in high school classrooms to increase people’s awareness of the program itself.”

Nevertheless, while the program continues to evolve and adapt to student opinions and success, when next year’s program starts in August, the newly enrolled FUHSD seniors selected from each high school to attend will be able to experience the pilot program for the first time in its entirety.

About the Writer
Jessica Li, Content Editor

Jessica is a senior and one of the content editors for the Epic. While not checking stories for AP Style, you can find her doing some of her favorite things:...

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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School
FUHSD modifies College Now program