Students find JCs popular

For California high school students, attending college right
after graduation is not as common as it may seem.
For California high school students, attending college right after graduation is not as common as it may seem.

Less then half of the state’s high school students attend a college or university after graduating high school, and San Benito High is no different.

Of the 445 students who graduated from San Benito High School in June, 25 – 5.6 percent – went on to a school in the University of California system, and another 65 students, or 14.6 percent, went to a California State University, according to a California Postsecondary Education Commission study.

The most common next step for SBHS’s class of 2001 was the community college level, which attracted 183 students or 41 percent, according to the study.

Part of the reason for the low turnout in direct transfers to four-year colleges is the difficult admission requirements and the rising costs of tuition, said Tim Foley, San Benito County Superintendent of Schools.

“The UCs have a very rigorous system of admission and the CSUS schools are a bit more user-friendly,” Foley said. “At the community colleges you get a third of graduates going because it is an open enrollment and much cheaper.”

Last year, two of 48 graduates of Anzar High School in San Juan Bautista went on to a UC school. Five went to a CSU campus and none to a community college, according to the study.

A slightly higher percentage of San Benito County students went on to college after high school than in Monterey County. But 11 percent of Santa Cruz County graduating seniors attended a UC, 9 percent attended a CSU and 24 percent went to a community college.

Statewide, 7 percent of high school graduates went directly to a University of California, 10 percent to a California State University and 30 percent to a community college, according to the CPEC study.

Yet the data does not reflect the number of students who transfer to out-of-state schools or wait after graduation to attend college, said ZoAnn Laurente, a senior policy analyst for the CPEC.

The economy also reflects how many students attend college, Laurente said. The Silicon Valley recession has made finding jobs more difficult and more students are going to college right out of high school and coming back after a break, she said.

College enrollment dropped during the Silicon Valley boom, Laurente said.

“In the dot-com bubble, when people were leaving schools to start new venture capital firms, what you needed was a good idea not a degree to back it up,” she said.

This year, Gavilan Community College has its highest enrollment of San Benito County students since 1994, with 157 local students at the Gilroy campus. Last year 127 graduates of San Benito County high schools attended Gavilan, 107 in 2000 and 115 in 1999.

Since the University of California has high standards for students coming right out of high school, many attend a community college and take general college requirements before transferring to a UC school.

“An initiative from the office of the UC president is increasing the articulation with community colleges that will guarantee admission once you fulfill the necessary requirements,” Foley said.

The deadline for applying to state universities is the end of November. Some seniors at San Benito High are taking advantage of the school’s Career Center to apply for college.

“We run application workshops to help kids fill out applications, and later in the year we do financial aid workshops to help with financial aid,” said Jeanie Churchill, SBHS career scholarship advisor. “We’re always trying to educate parents on filling out applications, deadline dates and financial aid.”

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