When it comes to education in Milpitas, the sky’s the limit. Especially now.
An awe-inspiring group of 14 high school juniors are the very first students at the new Milpitas Middle College High School (MMCHS).
Located on Escuela Blvd. at the San Jose City College Extension campus, across the street from Milpitas High School (MHS), the program brims with opportunity. Run by the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD), the program offers high school students the ability to take college courses while also completing requirements for high school graduation.
This program is the first of its kind in our community, and one that will undoubtedly open doors to students seeking an educational setting that will not only challenge them, but will prepare them for the full college experience.
And even though this program only just officially started in August 2021, it has already been making an undeniable impact on students’ lives.
Student Charu Sharma has dreams of going to medical school, and she feels that being a part of the MMCHS program is bringing her closer to that reality:
“I’ve been able to take college classes and I don’t feel like I’m taking unnecessary courses, like I would have to at the high school,” said Sharma. “There are more career-oriented classes I can take here.”
In the mornings, the 14 students come together to take 3 high school courses, before breaking for lunch. After lunch, they start their college course load. Each student has the ability to choose college courses totaling up to 15 credits.
A typical college course is about 3-5 credits, depending on the topic. Through these courses, not only are they getting a jumpstart on building college credits, they’re also meeting their high school transcript requirements. At MUSD, 1 college credit is about the equivalent of 3 high school credits.
“For a student who’s in a 3-credit college course…that counts as 10 high school credits,” said Karisa Scott, Principal of the Milpitas Middle College High School. “So they’re able to meet their high school requirements quickly.”
Currently, the program offers 3 different pathways for students to pursue – Health Services, Business/Entrepreneurship, and Education/Social Work. And the beauty of the program is that students aren’t tied down to whichever pathway they first choose. If something’s not working out, they’re always free to change their minds and pick a different route.
Jazmynn Moore, another student in the program, loves the small class environment, and feels that the program has been really welcoming:
“I decided to be a part of this program, because not only do I get high school experience and the college benefits, but I also get a lot of support here,” said Moore. “I struggled a lot in certain classes in high school before. But with the support here, I’ve excelled.”
Mandy Lau, who teaches English 11 Honors and College and Career Advisory classes, is beyond ecstatic about being involved in the program:
“I love that I get to make a curriculum for kids that is actually relevant to them. It’s really exciting to feel students engaged,” said Lau.
Each day of class starts at 8:45am. Before that, from 8am-8:45am, there’s a window for students to come in and get academic tutoring on subjects that they need support with.
Since the program is full of Honors and high-level college courses, Principal Scott believes that such tutoring support is essential to helping students stay on track.
“Every progress report, if a student has less than a C, they’re required to come in for academic tutoring. Because of that, we don’t have any students that are failing their classes,” said Scott.
Even if a student isn’t getting less than a C, they still have the option to come in and receive academic tutoring. Scott says that more students are coming in than required to, just for that additional support.
Starting next semester, in January, students will have the ability to also take courses at the main San Jose City College campus, on Mondays and Wednesdays. This will open up access to hundreds of other courses for them to pick from, should they be interested. To make things easy for students, MMCHS has arranged for a small bus to transport them from Milpitas to San Jose and back again on both days. The school’s Secretary, Liz Riddley, has been instrumental in organizing the transportation.
Also next semester, an internship program is starting at MMCHS, giving students job shadowing opportunities and life experience in the fields of their choice. Not only will they gain valuable work experience, they’ll also have a chance to learn whether or not their current career pathway is the right one for them. This is why they aren’t locked in to whichever pathway they first choose: better to find out now than later.
Applications for the next year of Milpitas Middle College High School open on January 31 for current high school sophomores set to become juniors in the Fall of 2022. The program is open to students from MHS and Cal Hills High School, as well as homeschooled students and students who are from other school districts. (Priority is given to students from MHS and Cal Hills.) MMCHS goes for 2 years, covering a student’s junior and senior years.
When asked who’s the ideal student for this program, Scott said that there are so many different kinds of ideal students who would be a fit. It might be someone who prefers a smaller setting to excel, or a student who knows they want to pursue a specific career/college degree and feels they can benefit from additional support to make it happen.
Above all, she feels that the student must really have the desire to try something new — a student who’s ready to take on the responsibilities and privileges that come with being part of a Middle College High School environment.
“What we’re seeing is the recipe for student success is connecting them to something that is meaningful to them and to their future,” said Scott.