[dropcap]As seniors get used[/dropcap] to their last year of high school, counselors begin inviting guest speakers from different colleges to motivate students, but this seems inadequate in guaranteeing a higher high school to college transition rate. Plenty of times, adults tell students, “More education equals more money.” This concept doesn’t seem so hard to grasp, so why are there still those who’d rather choose to get a job straight after high school?

Due to the increase in tuition fees for college, those who are financially challenged feel like they don’t have the choice of getting a higher education. College Board, a website that helps high school students apply for college, shows that tuition and room and board fees have gone up 2.6% each of the last ten years.

Sky Ly, a second-year student at Fresno City College, says she sees a trend among those who drop out of school. “If you have a job, you’re just going to keep working, working, and working, and then you’ll come to the point where you stop and wonder, ‘when am I gonna go back to school?’”, commented Ly.

[pullquote_left]I think a lot of students see college as this thing that is going to take forever, they either find a job or their priorities are different.”[/pullquote_left]

Counselor Ben Reynoso from Upward Bound says that about 97% of his students have gone on to college and the other 3% don’t go to college right after high school. Upward Bound, a program at Fresno State, helps first-generation and low-income, college-bound high school students get into college. The program has several counselors that push their students to continue on their education after high school. Reynoso states that students don’t go to college because they have other plans. “I think a lot of students see college as this thing that, you know, is going to take forever, they either find a job or their priorities are different,” Reynoso said.

Along with the financial aspect, some individuals opt out of college because they think they’d be able to get a head start saving money. Truth is, they will be less likely considered in the selection process for jobs. Panyia Thao, a former college student and current employee at the IRS shared that one of her friends who was hired was laid off several days later because her “education wasn’t enough.” She compared a high school graduate’s status with a four-year college student’s status when competing for a job and it was clear that employers would rather hire the person with a higher educational degree.

Thao said she believes in the importance of education and what it entails for the future of individuals. According to Thao, college provides students the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to obtain a career or a job in the future, but the decision to actually attend mainly derives from the amount of motivation and drive within them. “Two or three years out of college, you’re going to lose all the information you learned in high school…you won’t remember a lot of the knowledge you learned,” says Thao, “and when you decide to go back to college, you’ll start out really fresh and it’ll be hard.”

Inflation and increased tuition is a major problem, but students sometimes forget about the essential aides available. “That’s what the counselors and financial advisors are for,” says Ly, “that’s why you go talk and get more information.” Though she didn’t visit her counselor as often as she could have, the times when she did, Ly said that her counselors did give her helpful information that made her think of her college route.

In addition to the academic advisors available, Reynoso says that his students who did not qualify for financial aid applied to many scholarships or took out loans if attending the more expensive schools. This is an option that people can take advantage of if they feel like they are unable to afford college.

For those who are afraid to take out loans because they don’t want to be in debt, Thao offers that regardless of where someone goes to college, that person will eventually need to take out a loan at one point or another to afford it unless they are wealthy. The point is, no matter how long it takes in college, once finished the hard work and dedication will pay off. The borrowed money will be slowly paid off once a person uses his/her degree to get a job.

[pullquote_right]When I’m 25 or 30, how is having a college education going to help me?”[/pullquote_right]

Because some students, as Reynoso mentioned earlier, don’t have their priorities straight, they might be thinking about buying a car or something that will benefit them presently. He says that what they need to think hard about is “when I’m 25 or 30, how is having a college education going to help me? And if they really think about that they’re going to know it, the older they get, the more a college education really makes sense.”

In the long run, individuals who recognize the importance of a college education and get a head start on it will prevail over others who don’t realize which path brings a more satisfying lifestyle until later. Thao sums it up by stating, “It’s going to be hard for you to force yourself back into school unless you have the determination…education should come first and you can always get a part time job or go to school part time and work full time as long as you’re still in college and filling your mind with skills and knowledge.”

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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