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A Head start to a Higher Education

The Rancho Bernardo Education Center is about to be home to one of three alternative high school programs in San Diego County.

Nearly 30 days in, the alternative for high school is in full swing. Being unseen and unvalidated is a high school student’s worst nightmare. Discouraging for some, there is an alternative if the traditional high school format is not working out for them.

Poway to Palomar Middle College (PPMC) aims to attract but is not limited to, students who do not see themselves finishing high school or college. Either because it’s too financially, or academically challenging, or if the traditional high school format is not working out for them.

PPMC offers students a glimpse of what a Community College or 4-year institution can offer. With flexible school days, students are not chained to the five-day, seven-hour week schedule. Those enrolled spend two days a week participating in internships, and two days practicing high school and college curriculum.

“We are so proud of our middle and early college partnerships, and of what these unique high schools are doing for students in our district—many of whom will choose to pursue higher education as a result,” said Palomar College Superintendent/President Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey.

The students’ internships consist of a real-world-based workload which includes resume building and interview exercises. Students enrolled in PPMC are not enrolled in the neighboring high schools, which means these students would not be able to participate in traditional high school extracurriculars.

This adaptive learning environment is striving to create a passionate and inclusive path for students to find their passions with a flexible academic schedule. Students in grades 9-12 are offered 64,800 hours of instruction each year. Average school days at PPMC include 240 minutes of instruction, far less than the traditional.

San Diego County offers two other Middle Colleges, including San Diego City, and Grossmont. The program came to fruition in 1974 beginning at LaGuardia Community College in New York City. The first two Middle Colleges to open in California were centralized at Los Angeles Southwest and Contra Costa colleges.


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