A Different Way to Learn


San Juan College High School offers high school students a unique opportunity to attend high school and college simultaneously. Students who attend the four-year early college high school will graduate with both their high school diplomas and an associate's degrees from San Juan College. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Ace Hardware of Farmington and CMIT Solutions

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For some high school students, thinking about college classes and degrees doesn't start until their sophomore or junior year. For the students of San Juan College High school, many are already starting on their associates degrees by the time they enter their junior year. The school is based on an early college high school model, a way to give students the opportunity to receive both their high school diploma and an associate's degree in four years. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by ACE Hardware and CMIT Solutions. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

You know historically, early colleges, you know, they date back several years. Our model is unique. There's a about 20 different early college high schools in New Mexico. Ours is really set on opening the entire course catalog at our higher-ed partner at San Juan College for students to go down any academic pathway. Some early colleges in New Mexico have limited amount of pathways. And some even focus on career tech ed. It just kind of depends on the model. And so, it's really a support system built around students getting into pathways that are of interest to them, and then supporting them through their high school curriculum So they can get to that dual credit coursework a little quicker, or perhaps, it's job training that they might be able to complete and then go into the workforce.

San Juan College High School, or SJCHS, opened in the fall of 2016 in partnership with Aztec Municipal Schools, Bloomfield Independent Schools, Central Consolidated Schools, Farmington Municipal Schools and San Juan College. Students from all four districts are eligible to apply for the early college high school program. And spots are determined through the application and a lottery process. Class sizes are kept small to help provide more direct support to the students throughout their four years.

Our model is such that, you know, our students are completing all four years of their curriculum in the first two years and then taking college classes. And so they do 11 first semester, 12 their second semester.

And we're actually here at San Juan College High School, we're doing the whole physics class in one semester instead of a full year. But we still cover the same material that we cover in a year at a traditional high school. But still even then, it's just more in depth.

The early college high school model is not for everyone. While the partnership with San Juan College allows students to participate in some of the college based extracurricular activities, there are no sports teams associated with the high school. And the pace and expectations of the academics can make it challenging to do many activities outside of school.

If students want to come to a school like San Juan College High School, they need to choose that for themselves. A parent should not force them to come to a school like this because it has to be sort of a self-driven, I want to be here, and I want to do this. Because if they're forced to be here, it's really hard for them. And just recognize that it's going to be a lot of hard work, and there's going to be a lot of time in school and out of school working, and being involved in this school. But in the end, it's a big reward.

Students attending San Juan College High School have the option to pursue more than 40 different pathways of study, including health sciences, the humanities, career and technical education, cosmetology and business administration and more. While applications are closed for the 2022 to '23 school year, informational sessions will begin in December and January for parents and students interested in attending San Juan College High School. To learn more about San Juan College High School, the programs and the early college high school model, visit sjchs.sanjuancollege.edu. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network, I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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