Come spring time, high school students across the globe are forced to face the dreaded question that seems to have followed them all throughout their academic career.
“Where are you going to college?”
For nearly every student this question brings stress and anxiety. Especially for students today, the increasing cost of a college education is enough to scare a prospective student from even applying.
In today’s job market, having only a high school diploma isn’t sufficient. For nearly every job, a college degree is a minimum not a bonus.
But what about the countless students to whom college is Mt. Everest, a mountain they have no hope of conquering? To those who can only hope to make it through high school?
There are two solutions, but in the eyes of society, they are treated with the same disdain of a high school dropout.
To students, community college is the solution. It’s much cheaper than a four-year university and students often save even more money by continuing to live with their parents.
But to those who choose this path, they are met with condescending sneers questioning their choice for higher education. Community college is seen as the lesser option. You must have not been accepted to any four-year, and this is the consolation.
But what a dangerous mindset to have. These kids seek a higher degree of learning, but are treated so poorly. There are countless reasons one would choose a community college, and none of them have to do with their own failure.
The other choice students are given is the military. By enrolling and heading to a military academy, students are given an education without the crippling debt. But this option is not much of an option for the faint at heart. Some students aren’t going to go into a dangerous battlefield, just to get an education.
For those who faced trouble in high school, many are left with only one choice: continuation high school.
Here in PUSD that school is Abraxas, a name whose connotation incites images of criminals and druggies.
What many forget are the student who moved from overseas, whose first language is not English, making classes like biology yet another foreign language. They don’t see those who face daily battles at home, with abusive parents or significant others. They forget those who were never given the opportunity to succeed, because they spent class worrying about their next meal, or skipped classes for a job to support their family.
The journey for secondary education is a noble pursuit. Listen to any politician and they will tell you the education of the younger generation is crucial to a prosperous society. So this fall, as students head back to school, whereever that may be, we should send them with encouragement and a lucky #2 pencil.
Photo courtesy of Francesca Hodges.