Published April 4, 2023
BY BRIANNA SCIUTO
As the academic and personal benefits of community college courses become more apparent to the public, an increasing number of high school students on the peninsula have been taking advantage of the opportunity to enroll in summer college courses, but siblings Taylan and Serenai Dincer have taken it a step further.
Taylan and Serenai began to enroll in courses at Monterey Peninsula College in grades seven and nine, respectively, and continued to build up their college transcripts throughout their high school careers, utilizing the opportunity to get ahead academically.
“I’ve always wanted to move at a faster pace,” Taylan says. “I wanted to see how much I could do. I’m ready to move on with my life.”
The college credits Serenai obtained during high school allowed her to both graduate from CHS a year early in 2020 and later obtain her associate degree in biology in one year at MPC. As a result of this accelerated educational course, she is currently a senior at University of California Berkeley at age 19.
Taylan, a junior at CHS following in his sister’s footsteps as an early graduate, obtained his associate degree in Communications and Analytical Thinking at the end of his sophomore year and is currently in the process of obtaining two more in Psychology and Social Sciences. He has completed 67 credits at MPC and is in the process of obtaining 14 more.
In order to succeed at this level at MPC, both siblings had to take several courses during the school year as well as over the summer. Although there are plenty of obstacles that come with this educational path, and the workload is demanding, both siblings found the sacrifices to be worth it in the end.
“It can be straining, but it definitely helps you develop both academically and personally,” says Taylan, who often finds he needs to prioritize his MPC exams over his social life and other academics.
But MPC courses open up countless opportunities at four-year universities. An extensive college transcript is especially beneficial on college applications as it shows universities your ability to succeed in a college environment and your motivation to go out of your way to pursue academics.
“Taylan and Serenai are very similar in that they are very ambitious students, and they go after what they are passionate about,” explains CHS Spanish teacher Tricia Bean, who taught both siblings.
Taylan believes his unique education will allow him to stand out to more prestigious institutions, such as Brown and U.C. Berkeley. Serenai reports a similar experience, having the opportunity to attend Berkeley for her undergraduate degree and, starting in the fall, UCLA for her graduate degree.
“I have always been very academically motivated, especially because of my parents,” Serenai explains. “My parents worked really hard to get to where they are today, so I want to do everything I can to succeed and make them proud.”
Serenai and Taylan’s parents are from Turkey and Estonia, and this served as an inspiration for Serenai’s strong work ethic and ambition. For Taylan, his older sister and mother particularly encouraged his collegiate ambitions.
“They were both glad to discover such an amazing enrichment option and took it upon themselves,” says Evelyn, Taylan and Serenai’s mother. “It was also just another way to take the pressure off the college admissions stress. The transfer route is pretty straightforward and also financially much cheaper.”
Both siblings find that community college made some of their more ambitious academic aspirations more financially feasible. Because they completed several prerequisite courses for free prior to graduating high school, they have to pay for fewer semesters at university.
As a plus, Taylan finds the college environment more appealing than that of high school, explaining that the more independent study and lax deadlines are accommodating for his learning style. And getting the required academic courses out of the way in community college allowed both siblings to take electives at CHS more suited to their passions.
“If you roughly know what path you want to take in life,” Taylan explains, “then graduating early might align with what you want to see.”