High school students – they come in all shapes and sizes, from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and have varying hopes and dreams.
Is it any wonder there is no “one size fits all” educational approach that works for everyone? In recognition if this, the San Diego Community College District collaborates with the San Diego Unified School District to Create City Middle College (CMC). CMC is a unique option for many kinds of students, including those whose plans don’t include post-secondary education and those who can’t wait until high school is over before they even start it.
What is City Middle College?
It is a blend of the secondary and post-secondary experience, which challenges students to realize goals and responsibilities they may not have been aware of before. It’s for students who have not been engaged by typical high school classes – they may be in danger of not graduation or they may want the challenge and opportunity of taking college classes in a college campus. These are students who quietly miss awards ceremonies or simply overlooked, getting lost among students who excel and students who frequently test the limits of discipline.
CMC comprises two weeks in a special “get-ready-for-the-catapult/boot camp” class at Garfield High School, 12 weeks in college classes at City College (while still continuing at Garfield), and two weeks as “interns” with businesses and organizations in San Diego.
Our two-week boot camp is designed to build community through a series of motivational activities focusing on team building, creative problem solving, study skills and career awareness. Through peer support and newly acquired survival skills, our students find themselves better prepared to engage a higher level of academic competition in the college setting.
During the 12 weeks at City College, one focus is employment preparation including visiting various vocational programs, resume preparation, writing a cover letter, completing an employment application, and learning effective interviewing techniques. Another focus of the college experience is developing a student’s awareness of themselves. They acquire a greater understanding of what is required to be personally successful.
Upon successful completion of the college courses, students move forward to an internship. The internship is several days of close observation of highly skilled professionals in an industrial/commercial environment. It requires strict punctuality and performance as it is expected of any new employee.
Students who successfully complete the entire program receive 5 ½ college credits and a College Certificate of Completion, which can encourage them to seek further education and job preparation at City College.
Upon serving over 800 students, there have been reduced high school dropout rates and improved academic performance, increased high school diploma completion and college entrance rates as well as expanded career opportunities. CMC has also expanded existing high school/community college linkages, increased student assistance and outreach activities, along with enhancing teacher and faculty skills in dealing with at-risk high school students.
By combining an occupational emphasis with academic assistance, vocational direction, and extensive student services, CMC’s priorities are to reduce high school drop out rates, increase community college attendance and prepare at-risk students for future academic and career success.
By enhancing CMC to include summer months, we will work with local youth hiring organizations to hire middle college students for paid and/or non-paid internships. Cooperative Work Experience Education consisting of one to three college units will be offered to students so that they continue with their academic goals, thus, increasing the number of students the college retains and the persistence rate.
Through the expansion of the mentoring and tutoring components on the college side, students’ higher educational experience is maximized and their retention level of subject matter increases. By providing active support systems on both campuses, the student success rate has increased, therefore, increasing the persistence and retention rates.
Improved future employment opportunities due to “practice run”, experience gained and contacts made during the Internship Program.
- Continued academic assistance and beneficial long-term relationship developed with mentors, academic tutors, fellow City College students and CMC project personnel.
Increased access to further educational and occupational progress gained through familiarity with college life and increased self confidence built on proven success.
Who are the Mentors?
The mentors are a very important part of the program and major factors in the success of the CMC students. CMC mentors get paid to do what teachers and counselors cannot do; work outside of school hours to encourage and enable students to stick with the educational plans they have set for themselves to succeed. All the mentors are college students, often near in age to CMC students. Many have overcome serious obstacles themselves.
The college mentors receive training and professional developments on the art of mentoring in addition to ongoing supervision through the CMC City College counselor. Our mentors inspire achievement through role-modeling and supportive interactions, preparing Garfield students academically, emotionally, and personally for the rigors if a meaningful college education.
CMC Student Resource Center Information
In its 12 years of existence, City Middle College (CMC) has helped prevent over 800 students from dropping out of high school. That figure is expected to climb even more dramatically as students services expand their learning experience in the center located on City College’s campus. The CMC Student Resource Center provides a home base for students to seek academic counseling, tutoring, study time and club meetings. History shows that the students who immediately continue from CMC into full- time college courses are the most likely to graduate from college.
The CMC Resource Center is equipped with computers, internet access and a printer. The center provides room for student led study groups, tutoring sessions, and meetings. Moreover, students can work closely with student mentors at the center to complete their assigned coursework.
CMC students/alumni and mentors share similar socioeconomic backgrounds, and many have overcome obstacles, including truancy, addictions, gang affiliations or simply not fitting into the traditional high school environment. Challenged by poor study skills, low self-esteem, and a scarcity of adult mentors, the student mentors can help advise their CMC peers how to help establish an educational or career plan to fit their lives.
What is the College Collaborative?
The college collaborative consists of four college classes, basic skills reading, basic skills writing, business math, and physical science. These college classes are taught at City College with a mixed student body; half City College students and half Garfield High School students. This experience shows that Garfield students attending classes with older and more mature students, changes their attitude and behavior. These classes fulfill high school graduation requirements, as well as improve the maturity level and increase the educational goals of the Garfield student.
Who is eligible for City Middle College?
Students 17-19 years old who have been referred to Garfield, and have good attendance for at least two months at Garfield, are eligible to participate in the City Middle College program. Counselors refer students who are severely credit deficient. They also refer students who do not find the high school atmosphere alone academically engaging.
How does a student enroll in the program?
Students who wish to participate in the City Middle College program must first be referred to Garfield High School. Counselors recommend them to the program and a teacher, who is also the college liaison, interviews them before they are accepted into CMC. There are two opportunities during the year to enroll; once in the City College Spring semester and once in the Fall semester.
For more information regarding the City Middle College Program, please call (619) 388-3524.