Brian Harward staff writer
A new reality is currently settling in for high school seniors: college applications are nearly due. For a period of a couple months, these applications are on the mind of many seniors, and the reason for this is rarely questioned. Why do so many seniors–students with different abilities and goals–all take the same next step in their lives? The answer is complicated, but it begins with the idea that in our society, a lot of the time the “best” path in life is chosen for us.
College is an investment that not many people are ready to take on. Today, students are graduating with a total of 1.31 trillion dollars in student loan debt. Without financial aid or scholarships, one year at USC costs $70,000; a bachelor’s degree from the school costs nearly $300,000, an astronomical amount of money that many people aren’t financially ready to carry.
A popular choice for Beverly students is to go to a two year community college before transferring to a four year college, mitigating the financial burden of college. According to its website, Santa Monica College’s enrollment per unit is $0 for California residents, while general fees come out to around $50 per semester. Although transferring to a four year college isn’t a guarantee, going to community college is clearly among the best financial decisions for getting a college education.
In 2017, nearly 40 percent of Beverly seniors who went to pursue higher education went to Santa Monica College. Clearly this is the most popular post graduate option. But it is not treated as such. It is treated as a second option; a backup for when all other scenarios fail. Our school does so much to get students ready to apply to four year universities, yet does not focus the same amount on other options.
Our society already does so much to pressure 18-year-olds into going to a four year college. Our school should not be another place where we feel forced to go in the “right” direction, it should only educate us on the pros and cons of the different options. Removing biases against different paths after graduation will help our students succeed.