The STEM Academy Experience
STEM, an early college program, has been offering high school juniors the opportunity of a lifetime for two years now. The inaugural class of STEM students will be graduating this spring with their associates of science degree, all expenses paid for. This first class of STEM students has been extremely successful, and this opportunity has great curb appeal to the future four year colleges they may apply to. Fortunately enough, the program lives up to all its promises.
99 classmates and I have been tackling the Goodman South campus for a semester now. We’ve gotten a taste of what college life is like and how it’s different from highschool. Personally, I love STEM. Being in a more mature educational setting has helped me grow socially as a person. I have interactions with people that are older than me and from every lock of life, increasing my awareness of others around me. Even within the STEM cohort, you have people from a handful of different countries, religions, ethnicities, and high schools. The great diversity is viewed as an advantage among many STEM students.
“Since I was in AVID and Pathways, I wasn’t able to meet new people. In STEM, I’ve met people from all different schools and ethnicities,” my classmate and prior LaFollette student Mareme Ndiaye (11) said.
However, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Being in college is a challenge and has its downfalls. First and foremost, you are expected to act like a college student, meaning you’re less likely to get away with high school behavior at MATC. If you act immature, people do notice and will say something. “Teachers see you as college students, not as high school students, so you're expected to act like one,” Ndiaye reiterated. Part of the expected behavior includes keeping your phone off in class. While some teachers are okay with it, most teachers won’t tolerate it and they either take your phone away or kick you out of class.
In addition to being well behaved, getting your work turned in on time is also an expectation. Unlike high school, you will not get extensions on homework or classwork, meaning that if you don’t turn it in on time, you will get a zero. It’s also good to note that an hour in class is equivalent to two hours of homework. This homework is usually of moderate difficulty level, but there is plenty of it to do.
Finally, another important expectation is to be in and on time to class. Most teachers fail students who aren’t present for six or more class periods, whether or not it’s excused. In my personal experience, one of my professors fails students who aren’t present for three class periods.
Despite there being some shocking differences that many high school students would dread, there are plenty of aspects of college that are splendid. Unlike high school, classes aren’t consecutive and the same amount of time. For example, I begin my day with College Algebra, a 50 minute class. After that, I have a two hour break, which helps me catch up on homework and take a breather. To round off the day, I have College Chemistry for three hours. Although you’re expected to be on campus until 2:30 p.m., classes usually end for the day at 11:20-1:20. Another advantage is the college credit we receive. One semester at MATC is roughly the same amount of credits as one year at La Follette. In addition to having more high school credits than the average student, you will also have an estimated 60 college credits by the time you graduate from the program. This looks great if you plan to transfer to a four year college in the future.
As your future nears, it’s good to take steps and opportunities that will better it. Most agree that STEM is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so take advantage of it and apply today.