High school students find a place in College classrooms
While many students on the Hill hit the library, head to extra-curriculars or even just cap off an exhausting day of classes with a nap in their dorm rooms, 17-year old Mariam Khan drives to Waterville High School to complete her school day. Khan was one of 18 high school students accepted to the College for the fall semester.
According to the admissions office, the College runs a program that allows qualified high school students—typically seniors—to enroll in one or more classes on the Hill. These students come from Waterville and many other towns across the state. The students register for a variety of the College’s course offerings, although math classes are the most popular.
“The entire middle of the day, I’m at Colby—every day but Thursday,” Khan said. “I go to the high school in the morning and again in the afternoon.” Balancing her high school schedule with the psychology and math classes that she is taking at the College is difficult, but for Khan, the hectic schedule is worth it.
“I’ve always been around Colby….I’ve always loved it. Being a resident of Waterville, I have always looked at Colby as that campus on a hilltop, [a place that I] aspire to be,” Khan said. Even though Waterville High School offers a dual enrollment program with Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, Maine, Khan said that taking classes at the College better “matched what [she] wanted to do.”
Jerry Zhang, also 17, is a high school student at Maine Central Institute (MCI) in Pittsfield. He is currently enrolled in Multivariable Calculus on the Hill. “My math teacher [at MCI] talked to me about the class at Colby last year and said it is a great opportunity since I would like to go further in math [but] my school does not offer any high level class,” Zhang said.
Like Khan, Zhang juggles a busy high school schedule with college classes. Instead of staying at his high school for the last class of the day, he come to the College for his calculus course. He completes the work that he misses during study hall or after school. Zhang's tight schedule rarely gives him the opportunity to experience what the College has to offer apart from his class. However, he has been able to attend one outside lecture thus far, which he described as “great.”
As many first-year students discover during their fall semester, the transition from high school level classes to elite college classes is not easy. “The adjustment is definitely hard,” Khan said. “It’s not the amount of work you are given, it’s mostly just the depth of knowledge required. It’s [fewer] questions and answers and more, ‘What does this concept mean and how can you apply it?’”
Despite the difficulty of her courses, Khan has adjusted well to life on the Hill. Besides taking classes at the College, she participates in Campus Conversations on Race (CCOR). On the nights when meetings are scheduled, Khan comes back to campus at 7 p.m. Sometimes she wanders over to the Alfond Athletic Center to visit her father, Sakhi Khan, who coaches the men’s and women’s squash teams.
Both Khan and Zhang have Mayflower Hill in mind as they apply to colleges. Their experiences as high school students on campus have positively impacted their views of the College. According to Zhang, taking a class on campus was “a great choice.”
Khan agreed and cited both the high level of academics and her overall positive experience at the College as strong reasons for applying to Colby. “I feel like a lot of people in Waterville are intimidated by Colby students,” she said. They have this stereotype of what they are like, but taking classes here as a high school student, I find that the [Colby] students are really helpful and really open to talking to other students and letting you get involved with them. Colby students are some of my best friends now.”