An alternative program allows students to leave school at 12:35 and fulfill high school and college credits.
College Connect is a program created by the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) to allow students to take free classes at Diablo Valley College (DVC) in San Ramon. Students have to take a minimum of four courses at their high school and then can take at least one DVC class. Students commute to the DVC twice a week on Tuesdays for two hours and Thursdays for five hours.
30 units of transferable college credit can be obtained taking courses at DVC, that all University of California campuses (UC) and California State Universities (CSU) accept.
Meghan Bruss, Monte Vista’s College Connect coordinator, guides students through the process of the college curriculum and helps students manage relationships with professors and their peers around them. Along with promoting interaction between other College Connect students, Bruss sets up study groups in her room to help and help improve communications amongst other high school students.
“Getting that college exposure and learning in a supportive environment helps students before they are thrown into it on their own,” Bruss said.
One aspect of DVC that many come to be grateful for is the cost. A four-year college can put many students into crippling debt from student loans. With access to free DVC classes, students can save up to one year in college and enter college as a sophomore. After graduating college, Bruss had to pay a lot of her student loans and does not want future college students to go through the same nuisance.
“Financial benefit is pretty amazing, colleges are getting more and more expensive, and anyway, you can ease that financial burden will be good,” Bruss said.
Advanced Placement (AP) classes are the most popular way to receive college credit among Monte Vista students. However, students need to pass the AP test at the end of the year with a score of four or higher. Furthermore, some colleges don’t even accept the AP credit as college credit. DVC puts students in the program to an advantage over AP students because there is a required test. Although, both AP and DVC classes are weighted, meaning students can boost their Grade Point Average (GPA) up.
Senior Skylar Feick has been in the College Connect program for almost two years. Despite leading an active role in multiple clubs and participating in drama productions, Feick manages her time to balance out the high school and the college curriculum.
“I knew that a lot of the AP classes were going to be a lot tougher so rather than do that I thought might as well get the college credits that I needed out of the way and the weighted high school course,” Feick said.
Most students complete two classes every semester at DVC. Students take humanity classes for art and history credits or sciences. Students do not choose their classes but can drop one of the classes if they decide to. Feick took biology at DVC instead of taking AP biology at Monte Vista.
“For me, taking biology at DVC was super manageable, it was a really hands-on curriculum,” Feick said.
Sophomore Alisa Ioffe recently applied to the college connect program. Her taekwondo training sessions take place late in the evening, therefore she can have the availability in the afternoon.
“It’s nice to have training at night because I have time to attend the DVC classes and more time for homework,” Ioffe said.
Ioffe also considers the fact that the credits can be transferred to other colleges, for instance the UC’s where she plans to apply. Ioffe recommends that students who have time in their schedule should consider applying to the program.
“I just think it (College Connect) will give you more opportunities and will definitely help your future in college,” Ioffe said.