Voices of Youth

Voices of Youth – Plyfaa Suwanamalik-Murphy

By Plyfaa Suwanamalik-Murphy

When entering high school for the first time, most students come in without any knowledge of concurrent enrollment or taking college courses while in high school. I had never heard of the term “concurrent enrollment” before I entered high school. In my second semester of my freshman year, I saw a bulletin sign in the hallway where on it hung a poster urging anyone who saw it to sign up for a San Francisco City College anthropology course offered after school at my high school.

This moment changed the entire academic course of my high school life. My mind kept going back to the poster throughout the day and the classes it listed: a psychology course and an anthropology course. When I was at home after school, I looked up one of the courses. Anthropology, “the study of human development both in the past and in the present.” I continued reading various definitions, which further added to my confusion. The next day I asked my counselor if I could sign up; to my utmost disappointment, I couldn’t enroll in the course until next year. I knew on that day, I would enroll in my sophomore year.

Following my first day of sophomore year, I signed up for Biological Anthropology, an overwhelming term for anyone at first. After taking college courses at the same time as taking high school courses (which is called “concurrent enrollment”), I found out the advantages of concurrent enrollment.

  1. With concurrent enrollment, high school students can save money in college (up to $25,000).
  2. High school students can save up to two years in college and transfer to a UC/CSU.
  3. Concurrent enrollment also grants automatic credit to UC/CSU and other colleges if the student passes, unlike APs, where only some schools accept the score of 3, 4, or 5.
  4. During the COVID-19 pandemic, high school students can concurrently enroll in any of the 116 California City Colleges: https://home.cccapply.org/en/colleges
  5. Lastly, taking college courses offers a chance to experience the course load of college classes and allows the student to learn something different that is not offered at their school.

With my school’s unique offering of college courses, I received the chance to learn more about humanities and my interest in philosophy. If I hadn’t passed the poster in the hallway and read it, I wouldn’t have taken a city college course, which would eventually lead me to a philosophy course. After I took all the after school courses offered at my school, I knew I wanted to continue expanding my education in the humanities.

At that point, I was in my junior year; I had only taken a psychology course and a couple of anthropology courses. I had always been interested in the critical aspect and thinking of writing; soon, I dove into a logic course over the summer. After the first week, I realized what the course was bringing out in me. I found that I had established a different character in class. I was questioning, debating, and asking the professor questions. At first, I hadn’t realized I was doing this; this behavior was extremely different from the classes I was in at my high school. I slowly began to see that I had a strong passion for understanding and learning philosophy.

While I am not discouraging students not to take any AP classes in high school, I would say to be aware that most schools with low acceptance rates tend to accept AP credits only with test scores of 4s or 5s. With a college course, high school students have a higher chance of getting their college course credits transferred and accepted. Additionally, you should always check to make sure if the course you are enrolling in is UC/CSU approved (this is a good indicator of a college-approved course).

In times of uncertainty, political instability, and amidst this health pandemic, I hope that my brief insight into what concurrent enrollment can offer a student serves as a reminder that one can still have opportunities in these times.

On a last note, elections are coming up in November! I would like to take this opportunity to tell you more about one measure very important to the youth of San Francisco and express my support. Proposition G is a ballot measure that will extend voting rights to 16 and 17 year-olds for municipal elections. I firmly believe that extending voting privileges to a younger age will raise the voting turnout later for young people in both municipal and federal elections. This, in turn, would encourage a lifelong habit of voting in elections and the inclusion of younger voters would bring civility, ethics, and serious dialogue to public and political issues affecting our communities.

Plyfaa Suwanamalik-Murphy is a Sunset District native, a homeschooler in her senior year and SF Board of Supervisors Youth Commissioner for District 4. You can contact her at faamurphy@gmail.com.

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