Pro—Should Students Pursue the Middle College Pathway?
The Middle College pathway is an invaluable opportunity that all Gunn students should consider. It presents a unique approach to learning with advantages such as flexibility, acceleration and independence over traditional schooling.
Middle College students are grouped in cohorts of about twenty students of the same grade—similar to small learning communities (SLCs) in secondary schools—who take required courses as one group. This creates a tight-knit
community where individuals can feel supported. Having the same teachers with the same group of students also makes it easier to build strong relationships with instructors and peers.
Although many students thrive in smaller learning environments, few openly discuss Middle College as an option, as it can often feel taboo to talk about nontraditional academic pathways. This leads some students to perceive Middle College as a place for people who dislike Gunn. In reality, Middle College is suitable for a broad demographic. By no means do applicants necessarily hate Gunn; rather, they often apply because they can learn better in a different environment.
The flexibility of Middle College is an appealing factor for students. While the core classes of English and social studies are taken in an SLC-like environment, other electives are up to choice. Middle College students are prepared for college by having freedom in their course scheduling. While the typical high school process is seen as college preparation, Middle College is an authentic college experience, where students not only have more freedom in selecting courses, but can also continue participating in Gunn events.
Middle College also provides an opportunity to accelerate along a chosen academic or career pathway at a rate significantly faster than at Gunn. At Foothill, students can choose many electives in the same subject area if they want to focus on one particular field, as opposed to the “breadth over depth” approach that Gunn offers. For students who have a clear idea of what they want to pursue after receiving their diploma, Middle College can jumpstart the process of higher education in a given field.
In addition to its strong elective focus, Middle College gives students a chance to acquire college credits early. Foothill College credits acquired through Middle College can be transferred to state schools like the UCs through the Transfer Admission Guarantee system. This allows students to earn their high school diploma while having several quarters worth of accumulated college credit, giving them a head start in college.
Those who are more skeptical about Middle College posit that students on the pathway are more isolated and have difficulty finding a tribe in the intimidating college environment. However, the cohorts provide students with a steady stream of peer-to-peer interaction. It is also essential to note that Middle College members are still technically students at Gunn, meaning that they can attend Gunn events and play sports for Gunn as well.
Staying well-informed about Middle College and the benefits it provides is advantageous to any Gunn student, especially those who are considering an advanced and personalized education experience. The pervasive stigma surrounding this path detracts from the very real and worthwhile choice it can be for Gunn students who want an alternative approach to learning.