Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a Charter School? Is There Tuition?

A: Charter Schools are public schools. We will not, and can not, charge tuition to attend a public Charter School. The decision to apply to and attend a Charter School is a family’s choice. Application to Health Sciences High School and Middle College is open to all San Diego County residents.

Q: Is the School Credentialed?

A: Yes. Our school is accredited by the Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC is recognized as the official Accrediting Commission for schools. University of California policy requires all schools that want UC approval of courses to meet the A-G requirements be accredited by WASC, or at least be an initial WASC candidate. Students will graduate with a high school diploma recognized by any high school, university or employer. All transcripts and credits earned will be accepted and transferable to other schools as well. Our school curriculum is approved by the University of California, and meets and exceeds the conditions necessary for their application and admission.

Q: Why is the School Called a High School and Middle College?

A: HSHMC is designed to serve as an alternative to a traditional public high school. The students are all of high school age. We have entered into a special partnership with Community Colleges that allows our students to take college courses for college credits. This provides our students with many more opportunities to take advanced coursework in health sciences. It also provides students the opportunity to take other courses that are of interest to them, that are not typically available on the campus of other small (or large) high schools. The selection of college classes, who takes them and under what conditions, will be a discussion between the school, family and student.

Q: When and How Can We Apply to the School?

A: Applications for each school year will be accepted during the open enrollment period. If spaces are unfilled once the enrollment period has closed, we may accept applications after March 31st. We are happy to send an application to any interested families. We are also available to provide assistance in filling out the application. Staff is available to meet with prospective families if they have questions about the school.

Q: Where is the School Located?

A: Our school is located at 3910 University Avenue in San Diego. The building is located right off of I-15 with close access to Sharp HealthCare facilities for student internships. Our facility is located right next to the University Ave Transit Center for easy access to public transportation.

Q: When Does the School Day (and Year) Begin and End? What About Breaks, Special Sessions, and Before & After School Programs?

A: The school day and year is similar to many typical high school calendars and schedules. Here are the details:

The HSHMC office opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 3:30 p.m. However, the school building is staffed from 6:30 am (for early drop off) until 6:00 pm.

Extended Day programs are available 3:00 – 4:00 Monday through Friday. Based on need, interest and cost, we offer classes, clubs and tutorials during the Extended Day period. We also offer programs and services (including tutoring) before and after school, and during school breaks. Remember, students may also enroll in community college courses and have work internships during, and after, school hours. It is important to have a schedule that the school, students and families all know about and support. In that way, we can maintain our focus on safety and educational value.

Q: Are HSHMC’s Teachers Credentialed?

A: Yes. Teachers who are highly qualified as experts in their subject areas, staff all of our core subject courses. They hold the appropriate credential to teach their subject. In addition, several University professors and healthcare professionals have indicated an interest in assuming various teaching responsibilities.

Q: If a Student Attends HSHMC, Does That Mean They Are Committed to a Career in Health or Healthcare?

A: Absolutely not! The school is uniquely designed to allow students who have interests and passions in health and healthcare to pursue and explore those vocational paths. However, our first goal is to provide each student a quality education. We expect that the curriculum we offer, and the experiences and opportunities we will provide, will prepare every student to graduate and be prepared to pursue a wide variety of post-secondary educational opportunities and careers. Our goal is to expand every student’s educational and career options, not to limit them.

Q: What Can You Tell Me About the School’s Curriculum?

The curriculum at HSHMC is:

  • Standards-based, advanced, and rigorous

  • Delivered by highly qualified educators

  • Designed for students to meet and exceed A-G requirements for UC/CSU entrance

  • Taught in a context of health sciences, health careers, and health education

  • Engaging, meaningful, and individualized to meet students’ needs

Q: What Kinds of Courses Do You Offer?

A: HSHMC students will exceed high school graduation requirements determined by California Education Code (section 51225.3) and exceed A-G requirements determined by the California State University and University of California for freshman admission. To see a sample schedule of the typical core program for HSHMC students, click here.

Q: How Are Students Instructed?

A: Implementing curriculum integration and a unique block schedule at HSHMC, students at each grade level will meet regularly as a large group to engage in lectures, activities, and presentations that introduce a specific issue or topic (often related to health sciences). Related to the large-group topic, students will then break into smaller groups to meet with a content-area teacher who will teach the standards-based curriculum in the context of that topic. Students will rotate between their core-content teachers to better understand the topic and develop subject-specific skills and knowledge.

Educational technologies, including podcasting, vodcasting, and internet-based programs, will enhance student learning and provide diverse opportunities for interactions with topic expertise.

In order to promote deeper understanding, the curriculum will be organized into big ideas and essential questions. For example, a big idea for 10th grade students might be “Healthcare impacts a nation’s economy” with an essential question of “Who is responsible for public health in a global economy?” Each teacher will address discipline-specific standards in a way that ensures students understand the purpose of the standards and their applications to real human issues. In this case, each teacher might address these grade-level standards:

The science teacher might address these grade-level standards:


As a basis for understanding the human immune response, students know the role of antibodies in the body’s response to infection, and how vaccination protects an individual from infectious diseases.

The history teacher might address these standards:


Students analyze the integration of countries into the world economy,

The English/Language Arts teacher might focus student learning on these standards for structural features of informational materials:


Students extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original analysis, evaluation, and elaboration.

School-wide approaches to content literacy instruction will ensure that students develop an interest and purpose for reading, habits of mind, and transportable strategies that they can use across disciplines to read, write and think. By using these strategies in each classroom, students will develop habits for engaging with texts and learning with texts. They will apply these reading, writing, and thinking strategies in their health science independent reading and writing tasks as well. Visual and performing arts content will also be integrated into core courses.

Q: How Are Students Assessed?

A: In order to ensure that students are meeting required grade-level competencies and prepared for the rigors of post-secondary programs, assessments will be administered and evaluated every 4-6 weeks providing specific and immediate feedback to students. Learning gaps will then be addressed in one-on-one and/or small group tutoring and interventions.

As required for all public school students in the state of California, HSHMC students will pass the California High School Exit Exam in order to receive a high school diploma. In accordance with the state’s academic accountability system (STAR program), HSHMC students will also take the California Standards Tests.

Q: What Are the Health Science Pathways?

A: Based on our partnership with the local community college, students will work with counselors and mentors to identify and develop a Health Science Pathway that meets the needs of the individual student. HSHMC students can take community college courses for credit toward both their degree and professional certification programs in healthcare. For example, students will be able to enroll in courses such as Emergency Medical Technician training, anatomy and physiology, Physical Therapy assistantship, biochemistry, Respiratory Therapist certification, phlebotomist certification, and so on.

Furthermore, HSHMC coursework and internship programs at Sharp hospitals will allow students to pursue vocational pathways in such fields as Biotechnology Research and Development, Diagnostic Services, Health Informatics, Support Services, and Therapeutic Services.

Q: Is HSHMC a Vocational School?

A: A school like HSHMC is a vocational school in the very sense of the word, because we are preparing students for a vocation and an avocation! In past decades, the term “vocational school” meant a separate school that tracked its students into a limited range of occupations and trades. Students attending Health Sciences High and Middle College (HSHMC) are being prepared to consider and enter Health Science and Medical Technology careers. The opportunities before them are virtually limitless. Some exciting jobs are within their immediate reach while others will require many years of additional academic coursework and field experience. As a career technical school, HSHMC offers a combination of vocational, career and college preparation. We believe we combine the best of these worlds: rigorous, standards-based A-G (college prep) coursework, immediate application through community college courses in allied health, and real-world application through internships. HSHMC believes that all students should begin their career preparation by learning entry-level skills and working toward entry level and mid-entry level allied health certifications. These entry-level experiences and certifications will provide all students with rigorous coursework and practical experience that will further their individual post-secondary educational and career plans. In other words, the student who eventually attends medical school at an elite university will benefit as much from their career technical high school experience, working as a nurse’s assistant, as the student who graduates high school and accepts a clinical position as a medical assistant. HSHMC will prepare students to successfully compete for entrance into the nation’s most prestigious universities. At the same time, HSHMC will prepare students to secure employment in an allied health career.

Q: Can Students Take Spanish at HSHMC?

A: Because of our vocational school status and our partnership with the community college system, we are able to offer students world language instruction at the college level. Our plans are to start this in the spring as students will focus on their health electives in the fall. This isn’t a problem for learning and credits, as a year of high school Spanish, for example, is completed in one semester at the community college level.

Q: What If I Have Other Questions?

A: You should have other questions! Choosing a high school that will meet your child’s needs is a very important responsibility. Feel free to contact our Principal, Sheri Johnson, anytime (phone: 619-528-9070 ext. 225, or email:, or schedule an individual appointment. Families are our most important educational partners.