Story by Summer Aguirre
Palomar College is partnering with school districts in North County to launch a high school program titled Middle College in the fall of 2020.
The program follows a national model supported by the Every Student Succeeds Act that was passed in December 2015 to provide equal opportunities for students.
When she was appointed, Palomar President Joi Lin Blake said she was surprised a program did not already exist in San Marcos and discussed its implementation with the superintendent of San Marcos Unified.
Middle College will be available on all of Palomar’s sites to assist high school students prepare for and thrive in postsecondary education.
The Middle College program offers the opportunity to accomplish this by combining principles of dual enrollment and early college strategies to improve college readiness and transitions.
According to Blake, the goal is to engage in early outreach and create a college culture in high schools.
Students create a five-year academic plan, offering both high school and college courses that culminate into an Associate’s Degree or 60 transferable college credits. The model also helps them avoid taking classes they do not need.
Counselors will be assigned to each of the high schools to ensure the transition is seamless.
Blake said the program has a “proven track record throughout the country,” and “data shows that once you create that culture and program…students are highly likely to graduate from high school…and more likely to go to college.”
The National Early College High School Initiative shows that in early college, which is similar to Middle College, 94 percent of students earn transferable college credits compared to 10 percent of students nationally. Thirty percent of early college students also earn an associate’s degree certificate along with a high school diploma.
In addition, the Middle College model allows students to enroll in college courses at no cost. Blake said that she and Palomar want to ensure that “higher education is accessible and affordable for everybody.”
“I credit Dr. Blake and the executive team for really thinking forward, (in regards to what) our community and region really need in order to fill that (education) gap,” said Julie Lanthier Bandy, Acting Director of Public Affairs and Communications, “We’re doing everything we can creatively and strategically to make sure we help with that situation.”
Each site will be shaped to best benefit the students in the area, such as implementing a manufacturing, agricultural-focused program at the Fallbrook Education Center.
Palomar is also looking at an online option for homeschool students.
This approach is influenced by the fact that Palomar’s campuses are spread out, and so students have more options academically.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us,” said Blake, “I think it just really reaffirms our commitment to North County…and to the families here, that we want to make higher education accessible and affordable for them.”
As Blake said, “At Palomar, we make it possible.”
- First week of Palomar: 2019: The Telescope Newspaper | All Rights Reserved