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Student Experience
Mariela Buchin
Mariela Buchin Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Mariela Buchin has completed more than 25 courses at College of San Mateo. She is a tutor in the College’s Math Lab. She was just accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). And, in June, the 17-year-old will graduate from high school.

That’s right. Buchin is a high school student who is attending CSM and West Bay Christian Academy in Redwood City at the same time. She is among 350 other students participating this year in CSM’s Concurrent Enrollment (CE) Program.

Buchin has received credit for community college courses in physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, math, English and biology. (The Program’s students may also apply these credits toward high school graduation.) She is a 4.0 student in high school, and carries a 3.41 at CSM.

“I like the different cultures at CSM and there are a lot of great teachers,” Buchin said about her college experience. “They really want you to learn and they take the extra time to explain things to you.”

Buchin especially mentioned Leon Faure, a math instructor at the College, from whom she has taken six classes.

“She’s really a neat kid,” said Faure. “The one thing that has made me happiest is watching her grow as a student. She has learned how to learn. She knows how to attack a math problem now. Having the ability to problem - solve is invaluable in anything you do. ”

Most students start in the fee-exempt CE Program when they are juniors or seniors in high school; they must have a “C” average to be accepted.

Others, such as Buchin, may start earlier when recommended by a high school principal or other school official.

Participating in the CE Program at CSM seems to be a tradition in the Buchin family. Mariela’s older sister, Anthea, started when she was a 10th grader. Anthea is presently a high-honors senior at UC Davis on the verge of graduating with a degree in biological systems engineering. Their younger sister, Lindsey, is also presently enrolled.

“ It’s a very popular program,” said Steve Morehouse, CSM high school relations counselor. “CSM offers high school students a unique opportunity—a chance to take classes from college professors and study with older, serious students.”

“Universities look favorably when they see that a student has completed college courses,” the counselor added. “And the students receive honors credit for most of the transfer-level courses they complete.”

In these tough economic times, the program also provides an outstanding bargain.

“Students can save tuition costs on the first years of college, when the university they attend accepts their community college credits,” said Morehouse.

The CE Program “has given me a good understanding of what college life will be like,” said Mariela Buchin. “I now know the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ and am used to the environment and what instructors expect from you. CSM has prepared me for the jump.”

This feature first appeared in CSM Currents in Spring 2004.