Early College Success Story: Ana Mertzlufft at Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School

Topics: Early College High School

Reflections from Ana Mertzlufft, a senior at Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School, on early college. Ana Mertzlufft is a senior at Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School (CT&SIECHS). Theresa Lewis, an English Teacher at the school, describes it as a place that “offers our students opportunities to experience college classroom settings and to earn college credit, while engaging a STEM curriculum that has been designed to help them explore the advanced study and career possibilities in the STEM disciplines.”

Located in Ballston Spa, New York, CT&SIECHS is part of the Smart Scholars Program and pulls students from 20 different school districts. Lewis said that self-motivated students thrive the most at CT&SIECHS, where students are able to structure a lot of their own learning. They also get exposure to STEM disciplines with partnerships between the school and local businesses.

“Ana came to CT&SIECHS already imbued with many talents that mark a scholar,” Lewis said.

“What has been most notable in her evolution at CT&SIECHS is the manifestation of her exploration, application and communication of learning. While talented in a typical high school setting, became better equipped for the future that she will design for herself because she has learned to take charge of how she learns and how she shares what she learns.”

Ana’s Reflection on Early College

During my sophomore year of high school, I sat in the auditorium at Hudson Valley Community College’s TEC-SMART (Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Alternative and Renewable Technologies) and I did not know what I wanted to do in life, or if I was going to get into the colleges that I hoped to attend. Sophomore year I did not feel prepared for any aspect of college, from applying, to course work, to working with a completely new set of people. I did not feel that my grades and SAT scores would set me apart in the application process from any other candidate.

It is hard being 15 and being told, “Pick what you want to do with your life” when you do not know anything about life. The early college high school program has allowed me to take classes in a myriad of areas, from Law to English, to clean power classes. In that way I have been able to ascertain my own strengths and weakness.

On college visits, I heard repeatedly how the college setting is so different from the high school setting. I feel completely prepared for a college setting, since I am already in one. I have met amazing people and made friends here. We have learned to depend on each other’s strengths in order to finish projects that could have a direct impact on the world.

Already having a college transcript made applying for the next step much less stressful than if I had not gotten to be a part of our early college high school. A college transcript is tangible proof that I am a capable student who, even in my high school years, made education my top priority. Administrators that I met at various college visits reacted to my telling them how many college credits I had by saying, “Wow!”

This made me realize that coming into this program was one of the best decisions I have made.

Here, I have be offered the chance to take classes in truly varied areas of study, in order to determine both what I want to do, and what I never want to do again. I have no anxiety about moving on to a different kind of college setting in the fall because I know I will be successful. I have learned how to collaborate and compromise while working on projects, and how to manage my time so that I can pursue my passions, like being a varsity athlete. I have developed many practical and useful skills that will make this transition easier.

I know exactly what to expect from college classes, and cannot wait to go.

Guest post by Ana Mertzlufft is a senior at Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School (CT&SIECHS)(CT&SIECHS) is part of the Smart Scholars Program, of which KnowledgeWorks is one of the contributing partners and technical assistance provider, along with the State University of New York and the New York State Education Department.