The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Campanile

The Campanile

The Campanile

Students pursue alternatives to high school


Emma Stayte was drowning in homework and with club volleyball, and felt like she couldn’t catch up. In addition to this stress, her learning disability was digging her into a deeper hole.

Stayte had a decision to make — stay on the traditional four-year track at Paly or choose the path less traveled and attend a Middle College program. After much debate, Stayte opted to enroll at Foothill Middle College, where she plans to start her senior year on Sept. 9.

“I decided to go to Middle College because Paly wasn’t really working out for me,” Stayte said. “I became very stressed and wasn’t enjoying my time at Paly. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m glad I made it.”

Middle College offers students the opportunity to complete high school graduation requirements by taking both high school and college courses on a college campus. This creates a learning environment where students are able to take control over their own education, and puts students on the track for advanced placement courses at Foothill following their high school graduation.

Stayte will have much more freedom and flexibility with her schedule, which she says helps students become more independent. Additionally, Middle College offers the choice to take classes online, which Stayte views as a huge advantage, as students don’t always have to physically go to class. Furthermore, the option to take college classes, either online or on campus, can assist students with discovering their interests and potential career paths.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and defined my interests in just one year, ” Stayte said.

While Stayte was initially concerned about being separated from her Paly friends by studying on different campuses, she said Middle College offers a welcoming, tight-knit community.

Although Stayte considers a smaller community an advantage, Ilai Beth, who will start his first year of Middle College this fall, believes the smaller community could be a disadvantage depending on the person. However, Beth appreciates the community size as it fits his learning style.

“I enjoy being part of a smaller community because I feel like being comfortable with everyone around me helps make it a healthier learning environment in which people are not afraid to speak on their opinions,” Beth said.

Other benefits of Middle College include various student services, such as college counseling and health services, as well as access to the library, bookstore and technology center.

Although pursuing Middle College offers many advantages, the uncertainty that comes with choosing unconventional paths concerns Beth.

“My only fear is that doing something out of the norm is always difficult, and there’s a chance that I may not enjoy it,” Beth said.

Students like Beth and Stayte have been benefiting from this program for 20 years according to Michael Wilson, one of the managers of the Middle College program. With each passing year, the flexibility that Middle College offers becomes more appealing, and the number of applicants is steadily increasing.

“We’ve had an increasing number of applicants since 2014 such that this year we admitted 32 students and have 65 on the waiting list,” Wilson said.

“I think the applicant pool will continue to grow and in the next year or two the program will grow as well.”

While the program has been attracting more students, the application process includes many requirements students must fulfill to be selected and enrolled.

“The application is a rigorous process: you have to fill out a five page application, two letters of recommendation, transcript, essay and a personal statement,” Wilson said.

Additionally, applicants must pass a matching system that evaluates if they should be considered for further review. According to Wilson, Middle College is looking for a match between what the program offers and what a student needs to be more successful and engaged in their education.

Stayte said, “Middle College has definitely broadened my horizons. By being able to take whatever Foothill class you desire, there’s an opportunity for you to learn about whatever you desire.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Campanile
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Campanile Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *