Alternatives to High School
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My older sister is thinking of sending her son to United
States without finishing high school. I heard that some community
colleges in Seattle (Green River, Shoreline) offer a high school
diploma combined with an AA degree program for foreign students.
Has anyone heard about such program in California? Do you know
if the high school diploma is legitimate since there is actually
no physical high school - just the community college?
I really appreciate any advice.
This is very common, it is called Middle College and several
Bay Area school districts offer such programs as an alternative
to traditional high school. Check with the school district (not
the college, it is a high school program during which the
student earns college credit) where your nephew will live.
-- public school mom
I had a friend whose son completed high school at DVC. He was
not a foreign student, but I'd start there.
Hi, our almost 16 year old is bascially bored beyond tears
at her high school. She plays basketball, sings in the
advanced a capella choir, so she is involved but
academically she is just not interested in trying. She
has an extrememly high IQ. She is tall, thin, and a
lovely young woman and has a lot of trouble with girls not
liking her (I understand that this issue will not go away
but it takes over her day)
I am thinking of offering her the option to take the GED
and start some classes at the JC. She already passed the
California exit exam last year in the 95th percentile.
I would like to hear from other parents whose kids have
taken this route. She kind of feels like the GED is
copping out yet she says that she is ready to actually
Thanks for any input. And it looks to me like high school
is not for girls either. Those of us who have high
expectations for our daughters to be leaders, achievers
and engaged are just as disappointed and discouraged.
high school is not for most
I had similar experiences with my daughter and the high
school academics and social scenes. In California you can
not get a GED until you are 18. You can however get a CHSPE
issued by the State School Board.
Your daughter may find that Junior College is no more
academically satisfying than high school. My daughter
attended Maybeck High briefly, and enjoyed the teachers and
the courses offered. You might want to explore that
My experience is that it is very difficult being quite
young and very intelligent. It is a real challenge finding
a place which is comfortable and challenging enough to be
I wish you and your daughter the best of luck!
You should perhaps consider other options alongside a JC
for your gifted daughter. It sounds as if she belongs in
an environment better suited to high-potential students.
This fall, I had a 16-year-old student in my class at
Mills College. She had felt inadequately challenged in
high school, and so did her junior and senior years'
coursework in one year, allowing her to begin college
before her 17th birthday. She is now an excellent student
and despite being young, has already made plenty of
friends and organized a student club.
Whatever one thinks about high schools, women's colleges
plainly are for girls (as well as women of all ages)! If
she earns her GED, she might also consider Mills
http://www.mills.edu/ . An alternative that wouldn't
require the GED is Simon's Rock College of Bard, which
allows early college entry to gifted students:
Given her youth, there might be added benefit to choosing
a college with smaller classes and a faculty that has the
time and inclination to work closely with individual
Professor (and mother) to gifted girls
There IS a public high school alternative in Berkeley: Berkeley Independent
Study. It's a K-12 program in which students meet once per week with each
teacher, some classes meet one-on-one and many meet in small seminars
(2-8 students). It is a small community with a wide range of students.
I teach in the K-8 program and have a lot of contact with the high school
students. I can report that the students feel very good about
school in our program. Students can take concurrent classes at the JC.
happy to talk with you or you can call the B.I.S. office at 644-8592,
Jr Way, Room 200. B.I.S. is at the opposite end of the Berkeley Alternative
There are resources in various postings at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/schoolsnotforboys/. Granted, we were focusing on boys, but all of the
resources we identified are for girls too. Most of us in the
would agree with you that the high schools available aren't for many kids.
The boys/men we were discussing are in alternative high schools or left high
school early, and most are doing much better as a result. Good luck to
been there... twice
In response to high school is not for most, who asked
(10/14 newsletter) for advice about her teen daughter
taking the GED:
You daughter isn't eligible to take the GED until she is
18. If she is 16 OR has completed (or will complete) 10th
grade, she can take the California High School Proficiency
Exam (CHSPE), which in many respects is the functional
equivalent of the GED. Community Colleges will accept it
as the equivalent of a high school diploma, so your
daughter would be able to enroll there.
The CHSPE will not substitute for any course requirements
for admission to 4 year colleges -- its very important
that you talk with an admissions officer at any colleges
you are considering to find out if they accept the CHSPE
at all, and if so, what your daughter needs to do
regarding required prerequisites.
The California High School Exit Exam is a requirement for
graduation, but it is not the same thing as the CHSPE.
The next test date is in March 2006.
More info is available at
There are posts in the same newsletter that seem relevant to your concern
about your bright 18 year old who would like to leave HS, so I don't want to
duplicate. One of our sons entered UCLA at 16, and we know many other
kids who left high school early via CHSPE or GED and entered college. Most
were much better off for moving on, but I'm not convinced that it was
because they were 'bright but bored' necessarily, but, rather, they were
struggling with too many issues and needed to move on somehow someway
somewhere. Growing up is just challenging - kids with and without academic
talent have difficult times in high school and need to move on. Anyway,
check out some of the other resources mentioned in the newsletter -
internships, community college, etc. Consider also talking with a college
counselor to see if your son has taken enough courses to enter a UC or CSU;
in our case, Rory Bled was our savior. If your son doesn't have
you may find an alternative college that won't care. Our son was way too
young to go to college at 16 (he figured that out in hindsight), but was
dropping out of HS with absolutely no plan whatsoever, and he was able to
sort himself out and graduate in 5 1/2 years, about the time he would have
a parent who has been there!
Has anyone had any experience with Job Corps? We're moving back to the east bay, but I'm uneasy about the high schools here.
We really can't afford private school. Our son, soon to be 16, had LD/ADHD and doesn't really care for school. He'd prefer to learn and trade and get a job.
Job Corps seems to have a High School Diploma Program, they teach Driver's Ed, and have career programs.
Anyone have any comments on the program?
I work for the U.S. Department of Labor which funds and
oversees the Job Corps program. Job Corps provides
training and education to youth age 16-24, mostly in
residential (i.e. dorms on campus) settings (the nearest
program, at Treasure Island, has many kids who commute to
the program every day, however, so that would be
possible). The program is terrific for a lot of kids who
might not otherwise complete high school for a number of
reasons. Most of the kids are low-income, many come from
situations where there was not the traditional family
support that many students need to be successful. That
does mean that some of the kids come with
significant 'baggage'. However, the program is designed to
give kids a lot of support, counseling and structure, as
well as training and education that will help them develop
as a whole person and be ready for the workforce, or
college, when they graduate. Job Corps works to help kids
complete a HS diploma or GED, and provides specific skill
training in certain jobs or to continue to a regular
community or 4-year college program. At Treasure Island,
they have a terrific culinary arts program - both a basic
and an advanced program for students around the country
who have excelled in the basic program. They also have
training programs in computer networking, carpentry and
masonry, and about a dozen other fields.
I recommend you visit the web site: www.jobcorps.org, or
give them a call at 1-800-733-JOBS (1-800-733-5627)
You are also welcome to call me and I can help put you in
touch with Job Corps staff locally who can answer more of
your concerns for your own child.
Oasis High School charter public school in Oakland
this page was last updated: Jun 7, 2011
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