Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How does the schedule work?
There is an INTERCESSION schedule (when college classes are still not in session in August and January) and a REGULAR SESSION schedule during which college classes are in session. The REGULAR SESSION SCHEDULE at GECA is a "traditional schedule" for high school classes and a "block schedule" for college classes.
Q. How are college courses mixed in?
College courses are mixed in with the high school classes. It's like a typical high school schedule but with college classes being substituted for classes that are not taught at the high school level (foreign language, physical science, vocational, art) for the high school diploma and other rigorous college courses are taken to reach their desired goal of an AA/AS degree or 60 transferrable units.
Q. What are the main differences between attending GECA and attending a conventional high school and enrolling in Honors and AP Courses?
Students are enrolled in college classes AND Honors/AP high school courses while attaining their high school diploma. Students are required to complete 40 college units to receive a diploma from the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy. Students may satisfy up to two years of college if they complete 60 college units, which saves students (and families) time and money to complete requirements for a Bachelor's degree. To learn more about the benefits of an Early College over a conventional high school, see the Jobs For the Future Informational site.
Q. Who pays for the textbooks?
All books and materials required by staff for grades are provided by the school, with the exception of textbooks and supplies required for courses taken over the summer in summer school.
Q. What's the tuition?
GECA is free and has no tuition or fees (with the exception of fees for courses taken over the summer in summer school). It is a public school created by a partnership between the Gilroy Unified School District and Gavilan College. Start up grant funding was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We strive to help those who couldn't usually afford college, families who have never attended college, or those who would not thrive in a typical high school setting.
Q. Can you buy hot lunches or cafeteria food?
Yes, you can buy lunch and breakfast, too. You can get food at the Gavilan cafeteria, or from the GECA multi-purpose room. Free and Reduced lunch is available for qualified families or you can pay $1.50 for breakfast and $2.85 for lunch.
Q. Do students have access to the college library?
Students have full access to the library and its services; there are books, online resources, videos, and periodicals there. You can also use the computers available for all students. 9th Grade Students are only allowed in the library before or after school, or with teacher supervision.
Q.What is a Seminar Class?
Seminar is typically assigned to students if/when their grade point average falls below 2.5, or when students need additional support or homework time embedded into their regular schedule. Seminar also serves as a "drop in" room.
Q. When does the school day start/end?
During Intersession, school hours are from 8:00 AM - 2:45 PM. During Regular Session, school hours are from 7:55 AM 3:20 PM, Monday-Thursday and 8:00 AM - 2:45 PM on Fridays. Some upper classmen may have differing start and end times due to unscheduled periods.
Q. Is there music, art, drama, or any other classes like that?
These classes would only be offered through the college as there is no organized program through GECA.
Q. How much homework should we expect?
This is totally up to the student and their diligence. There may be times built in the school day through "seminars," classes for students to do their homework. If time is used wisely during the school day, it will greatly reduce homework at night. Otherwise, a student may have as much as 3-4 hours at home to do each evening.
Q. Can we go anywhere on campus?
Technically a student (except for first semester freshmen) may go anywhere on the Gavilan campus. However, students may not go on the trail to the water tower or leave campus itself.
Q. Does GECA have sports?
There are no organized sports at GECA. As with art, music, and drama, Gavilan College offers physical education courses that might be of interest to our students.
Q. Can a GECA student participate in a sport offered at Christopher High School or Gilroy High School?
No. The California Interscholastic Federation, responsible for governing high school sports, prohibits students from one high school joining a team at a different high school, even if the two schools are in the same district.
Q. How hard are the classes?
The classes are certainly a lot harder than you have taken in junior high school. Every high school course taught is either honors or AP. Courses will go a lot more in depth and at a much faster pace.
Q. GECA sounds great but my grades are not that great. Can I improve my grades at Gilroy High School or Christopher High School and then apply in Grade 10 or 11?
We encourage 8th grade students who are at or above a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) to apply to our program to be part of our incoming class. At this point, for the 2017-18 school year, GECA is only accepting applications for the incoming freshman class (Class of 2021).
Q. Since all the GECA courses are Honors or AP, how will colleges to which I apply know that I undertook a more challenging course of study?
Colleges are familiar with the Early College design. Additionally, when students apply for colleges, the college applications ask students to denote AP or Honors level courses.
Q. Is there any social aspect to the school?
Yes! There are clubs, activities, dances, formals, Disney Grad Nite and most all sorts of events you might find in a conventional high school.