Are Middle College High School students missing out?


Carolyn Tran (created with Canva)

Does Middle College High School provide its students with a proper high school experience?

You’ve heard of the traditional high school experience. Football, lockers, clubs, cliques, and dances: the building blocks of quintessential adolescent life. At Middle College High School, however, some of what people associate with one’s teenage years is missing.

For starters, varsity sports are practically nonexistent, and the school grounds, rather than being filled with teenagers, are oftentimes flooded with adults. This is because MCHS doesn’t have its own campus. Instead, it is located directly inside of Santa Ana College. Here, most students graduate with both a high school diploma and an AA degree. They juggle high school classes, college courses, and the various hardships from both institutions. As a result, there isn’t much time for school pride, and even prom is a rather small event. Also small? The student body. MCHS only has a few hundred students while the average SAUSD high school has well over a thousand.

The debate of whether or not it is better to attend an early college high school or a typical high school has been a controversial topic among students at MCHS for quite some time.

Many Middle College students have been reported to be unsatisfied with their high school, citing the lack of extracurricular activities as one of the primary reasons. At MCHS, there are only a small handful of electives that are available. These include drama, competitive speech, robotics, journalism, yearbook, and ASB, as well as a few CTE courses.

Senior Jamie Sanchez said, “I really wish our school had more music and art electives. If you go somewhere like Century High, you’ll see that they have everything from choir to AP Studio Art. I gave these things up willingly to go here, but sometimes I wish that Middle College had more to offer.”

Another aspect of MCHS that students find displeasing is the lack of sports. While there are athletic events like Wizards for Water and groups like the dance team, it cannot be denied that Middle College isn’t exactly known for its physical prowess.

“Other schools have these huge football games that are a huge source of school pride. A lot of my friends have so much fun at them, and it’s kind of sad that our school doesn’t have anything equivalent to that. I also would really like to join a sport like tennis or volleyball and to compete against other schools, but that really isn’t an option here,” said sophomore Yara Elsayed.

However, while MCHS doesn’t provide students with the typical high school experience, it does have a lot to offer academically. After all, its main appeal is that students can graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from SAC.

Senior Albert Huynh said, “I do appreciate the flexibility I have when choosing my classes. I can take care of a large fraction of my high school requirements by taking college classes, and it’s nice to show the universities that I apply to that I’m getting a college degree in high school. It saves me two years of college and a lot of fees, considering that all of my tuition and supplies are paid for.”

Another benefit of attending Middle College High School is the tight knit community that it provides to its students.

“We might not have a lot of school pride and big events or dances like larger schools do, but I think the students here tend to look out for each other more. It’s easier to talk to people, and things like school fights don’t really happen. I’ve also noticed that harassment in pretty much all forms gets called out pretty quickly. It’s a good natured school,” Huynh said.

Middle College High School evidently has some benefits that normal institutions don’t, but that doesn’t mean that the school can’t be improved. The addition of more electives and extracurricular activities would be a welcome supplement to the academic rigor that MCHS is known for. It is important for a school to take care of its students’ holistic needs as well as their academic ones.

Ultimately, when it comes to down deciding whether or not MCHS is better than a traditional high school, there isn’t a clear answer. It will most likely vary from person to person. If you want a normal high school experience with sporting events and a plethora of extracurriculars, chances are that Middle College won’t live up to your expectations. If you want to focus more on academics, however, and prefer a decidedly calmer environment during your adolescent years, then you’ll probably come to find that MCHS is one of the best schools that you could possibly attend.