Redwood students take advantage of multitude of classes offered by College of Marin

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Students at Redwood take a wide variety of College of Marin (COM) courses, ranging from Abnormal Psychology to Race Gender and Sexuality in the Media.

According to Gina Longo, the administrative Assistant to the Dean of Enrollment Services at COM, the number of high school students enrolled in courses each semester has increased since the start of the school year in 2014. In the fall of 2015, 21 students enrolled in language classes alone.

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The College of Marin campus in Kentfield where Redwood students can attend class.

Paula Vantrease, Redwood’s college and career specialist, said that students tend to enroll in the math and science classes. Students have also signed up for dance and other electives that aligned with their interests. Japanese, nutrition, calculus, and anthropology are other diverse courses with Redwood enrollment.  

Reasons for high school participation in college courses varies from receiving college credits to pursuing interests.

“The [students] want to take the class because they need an extra English class for college, or maybe you can’t take a psychology [class] here in the spring. So they can take a psychology class [at College of Marin] in the summer,” Vantrease said.

The variety of courses offered to students by the community college greatly exceeds the limited courses provided by high schools. This has opened up many opportunities for students to explore their personal interests.

Last June, sophomore Jemima Dominguez engaged in a class called Images of Race, Gender and Class in the Media at the College of Marin.

“I wanted to take a class that wasn’t offered at Redwood, something that was unusual and different,” said sophomore Jemima Dominguez.

After being encouraged by her sister and counselor to try a College of Marin class for more credits, Dominguez found an unusual course that interested her.

“[The class] made me more aware of what I was watching and the stereotypes that were happening on TV,” Dominguez said.

According to Dominguez, it was a 12-week course and the classes were about three hours a day. The homework consisted of lots of essays, but she said that it improved her writing skills.

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Sophomores Paul Nicolopoulos and Aidan Rankin-Williams completed the 2015 fall semester psychology course at College of Marin. They both were curious how this class would differ from their regular high school curriculums.

“I’m really interested in how humans think and how they will react, and what prompts them to do something, or what steps will they take if a certain event happens,” Rankin-Williams said.

Nicolopoulos’s friend who took the course recommended the class to him, knowing that he was interested in the subject.

“[Nicolopoulos’s friend] said the teachers are really fun and they’ll tell you their personal stories and that it’s more than just sitting through lectures, it’s actually interesting,” Rankin-Williams said.

According to Nicolopoulos, the class took place once a week for two hours. There was about 20 to 30 kids in their class, but Nicolopoulos only recognized three other peers.  

The two sophomores weren’t sure of how fun the class would be, but were pleasantly surprised by how interesting it turned out.

“I was expecting a hard teacher because it is a college class, but it was surprisingly very laid back. The only homework was studying and our teacher gave us a study guide with everything we needed to do,” Rankin-Williams said. “Some days, the two-hour class went by quicker than the 50-minute classes that we have.”

Nicolopoulos says he will take another College of Marin course this semester on Abnormal Psychology, and Rankin-Williams will take another course as well.

Last year as a sophomore, Astrea Slezak took psychology due to her consideration to study the subject in college.

“My neighbor was a criminal psychologist, so she would go to prisons and talk to the prisoners. That was so cool to me,” Slezak said. “It’s not a fictional thing, it happens in real life so that just interested me a lot.”

One semester of a college course is equivalent to a year’s worth of a high school course. This was a major factor in Slezak’s decision to enroll in a class at College of Marin.

“Next year, I’m going to take biology at College of Marin instead of taking AP Bio here. Then I’ll have the college credits and the high school credits, and I’ll only have to take it for a semester,” Slezak said.

Slezak is also enrolled in the American Sign Language class this semester and claims to be benefiting from the course.

“[The ASL class] is going to complete my high school [language] requirements,” Slezak said. “I also won’t have to take a language in college.”

According to Vantrease, the cost per unit at the College of Marin has increased from $9 to $46 for college students since 1996. However, high school students can take the class for free, another benefit of Redwood student enrollment.

Students looking to enroll in a College of Marin class should retrieve enrollment forms from their Redwood counselor and bring them to the college campus fully filled out.

Applications are only denied if there is not enough room in the requested class. Students can still enroll after the deadline if there is space.  

“One of the many wonderful things about a community college is that they can take anybody,” Vantrease said.

Usually the classes are offered to high school students at night to ensure availability.

Placement tests or prerequisites may be required to enroll in advanced classes at the College of Marin, according to Vantrease.