High school offers exposure to college, associate degree

By Alondra Gallardo, Advocate Staff

Middle College High School, housed on the Contra Costa College campus, allows students to finish high school while exploring the college experience and working toward an associate degree.

“MCHS is an alternative school, different from a comprehensive high school,” MCHS Principal Finy Prak said. “It implements an early college opportunity for our students here on campus.”

While MCHS students attend their normal high school classes on campus they take college courses.

Prak said being exposed to the college environment allows students to challenge themselves where they would not be able to at a regular high school. It helps them explore their level of interest and what major is right for them.

MCHS 2016 graduate Jorge Poblano said it made him more aware of finances, gave him a better understanding about transferring to a four-year college or university, and made him a lot more appreciative of community colleges and everything they offer.

“It opened up my knowledge on what colleges are known for my major and best for me, rather than being drawn to the big-name ones,” he said.

Applications for the high school usually open in January. There is a preview night for families in February, applications are due in March and those accepted are notified in June, MCHS office manager Kris Moore said.

“We look for students who are a resident of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. We look for (students with) good attendance and good behavior; something that shows us the student is more mature and independent,” she said.

Generally, MCHS only accepts freshman and sophomores, not juniors and seniors, because juniors and seniors already need to have taken their college prerequisites, Moore said.

Students are allowed to take up to 11 college units per semester, which fulfill their general education requirements toward their associate degree.

MCHS sophomore Lizbeth Poblano said, “It’s knocking off two years of my college career, which saves me a lot of money, by giving me the chance to graduate with my AA (when I receive) my high school diploma.”

“When I go to a four-year I will already have an idea of what college is like and what major I may want,” she said.