Foothill is considered to be a school of high academic successes, boasting a wide variety of Honors and AP courses, and supporting rigorous academies like BioScience and D-tech. Many students thrive in this environment, taking advantage of the numerous opportunities to learn and develop, while others feel that Foothill’s constant drive for academic excellence is overwhelming and even restricting.
A fair amount of students who didn’t get into to Foothill their Freshman year continue to try to transfer in their Sophomore or Junior years, but another portion of students find themselves unhappy at Foothill and decide to complete their high school years at other Ventura Unified high schools.
Olga Qoshlli ‘21 attended Foothill for her Freshman year, yet made the decision to switch to El Camino High School in the middle of her Sophomore year; she was overwhelmed with her courses and didn’t feel like she had time to participate in activities outside of school that would help to prepare her for college.
“Foothill is a really good option if you want to go to school and excel there,” she said. “If you want to do other things—if you want to do extracurriculars, if you want to take college classes—then Foothill’s not really for you.”
Other students felt that Foothill’s environment caused social conflict, due to the fact that grades held so much importance. Chloe Balint ‘20 initially came to Foothill because of peer pressure, as well as knowing the school’s “reputation for being the ‘best’ high school in the district,” but transferred to El Camino midway through her Freshman year.
Balint commented “At Foothill it seemed like all people cared about were grades. My GPA somehow defined me, and since I was struggling, my classmates did not want to be associated with me.”
However, she has found a better balance at El Camino and feels like she is able to thrive in academic and social aspects. “I happen to school instead of school happening to me,” she says. “It is nice to be in a situation where I can finally learn the way I need to learn. Although I do not believe my grades define me, it is gratifying to be in an environment that allows me to achieve academic success.”
Jay Ryan ‘20 decided to leave Foothill and finish his sophomore year at Buena High School, and he has been happy with his choice. “I do not believe that it provided the proper environment for my personal desires of a high school education,” he explains. “I didn’t like block schedule, I didn’t like the limited selection of available classes, and [I] wanted to get a wider high school experience.”
Students who have transferred out of Foothill seem to be significantly happier in their new schools without as many academic restraints, while students who have transferred into Foothill are also incredibly content with their decision.
Rose Aguilar ‘21 was waitlisted at Foothill as a Freshman, but she was able to transfer from Ventura High School to Foothill for her sophomore year. “It was a hard decision to make,” she says. “I would be leaving all of my close friends. While I did know some people, I knew I’d have to adjust to a new environment and campus.”
However, her worries were quickly absolved, as her transition was much smoother than expected. “It’s been great. I love my teachers and friends and [the] clean environment. The smaller classes definitely make it easier to connect with teachers as well.”
“I have yet to see something I don’t like about FTHS,” she notes.
Still, a variety of unique factors, such as social conflict, academic pressure and class selection contribute to the feeling that Foothill has become more of a drive-through than a final destination for many students, who find themselves leaving midway through their high school years.