I mentioned in my previous post that I went to a community college for my junior year of high school. This has become a big topic in my hometown, so I thought I would dedicate an entire post to it.
So most high school students are encouraged to pursue further education at the collegiate level after high school. In order be attractive to potential colleges, as well as to succeed and have a head-start, it is important to have some college credits before actually entering college. There were a few different ways that you could do that as a student in my town.
First, we had an early college program. This was a school that that accelerated its students so they finished all four years of high school curriculum in their first two years of high school and then went to the local university- UNCW- for the final two. While they didn’t graduate high school early, technically, they were predominantly taking classes at the university after their sophomore year of high school. This meant they could feasibly enter college with the amount of credits a typical college sophomore has completed. This was a wonderful opportunity for many students, with more positives than I have listed here, but it didn’t offer any extra-curricular activities such as sports or drama. Both of those were important to me in high school, and I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to keep up with the pace of the curriculum, so I chose not to apply for that school.
Second, there was the opportunity to take AP classes at all of the public high schools. These were college level classes that counted for both high school and college credit. The most popular of the three choices, this was good for giving students a taste of what a college course would look like in terms of academic rigor and pacing. However these courses were still taught in the same high school classroom setting and did not fully represent college classes. The credit you earned at the college level was also based solely off of your performance on one big test. I took some AP courses and did well on some tests and poorly on others, but I did not necessarily think it was a fair assessment of how much I had learned in that class, more so how well I had learned to take that style of test.
Lastly, there was the option of spending half the day at the community college taking classes and half the day at the public high school. This way, students were able to be fully immersed in the college atmosphere, getting a feel for how professor taught, what expectations were, and how quickly material was taught, but still being a high school student for half the day. Also, getting a passing grade in the community classes would earn you credit at universities (like UNC) instead of basing it on one exam. I loved taking classes at the community college, and I felt it prepared me for college more than anything else. I understood how much time I was expected to use outside of the classroom studying and doing homework and I realized that shorthand notetaking was so so important. On top of that, I earned enough credits to be half-way done with my history minor when I started at UNC!
However some people feel that allowing high school students to take classes at the community college is diluting the quality of the community college’s education. They argue that it is making community college credits seem to be level with high school credits as more and more high schoolers fill their classrooms. I would argue that the students don’t change the quality of an education, the teacher, curriculum and policy makers do.
I am interested in hearing other opinions on this topic, though! How do you feel about community college for high schoolers? Or AP classes or early college programs?