As the school year comes to a close, many seniors are making decisions that will impact their future — whether or not they will go to college, study abroad, join the military, search for immediate job placement, or something else entirely. For some, deciding where they’ll go after high school is no question; they already have their top universities in mind. But for others, the decision doesn’t come with nearly as much ease — some may be considering a gap year, trade school or community college, or have no idea where to imagine themselves in the next four to six years.
Many students have spent long hours working to maintain their GPA, studying for advanced placement (AP) exams, and preparing diligently for SATs, or ACTs. Many have retaken the SATs or ACTs two or so times in order to get the scores they want to attend a university, or be eligible for one. All this preparation may be driven into students who are expected to go to college after high school. Be it because of friends, precedents set by older siblings who have attended college, or parents, there lays the question: Are four-year universities idealized more so than other post high school alternatives?
For many, there is a negative stigma attached to community colleges. Some may think community colleges have a lower standard of education or are for those who didn’t get into a four-year university.
Some students are more certain about attending a community or two-year college instead of a four-year, having various motivations including money, campus size, or their own reasoning.
Senior Kiana Shahabikia plans on attending De Anza for two years before transferring to USC.
“In my opinion, there used to be a negative stigma attached to community colleges but not anymore because paying for college has become more and more difficult, and people want to save money,” said Shahabikia.
For certain students, a four-year college may be the more ideal choice based on their specific career interests.
“After high school, I aspire to pursue a career as a civil rights lawyer and attend a four-year university after graduating. To prepare myself for a college education in law, I volunteer at the local courthouse and serve as a translator on a weekly basis,” said Guadalupe Mendoza, junior.
Still, other students are on the fence about their future decisions, and for good reason too: there are many local campuses that guarantee transfer admission to CSUs and UCs, where students may have at first been rejected or waitlisted from if they applied this past fall.
“If I get off the waitlist for my desired school, then I will be balling, but if I don’t, then I will take a gander at my options,” said Meera Kohli, senior.
Not only do most community colleges guarantee transfer, but some also offer more cost effective tuition fees than four-year unis. Local community college West Valley had an estimated total of almost $13,000 for tuition and fees for the 2016 term, according to College Board, whereas public four-year colleges were estimated to be almost $25,000.
While considerations such as these are important to consider before making decisions about the next two to six years of student’s lives, in the end the reality is that community colleges usually do offer the same or better quality of education found at four-year universities, and most of the negative connotations surrounding community colleges are just that.