Thousands of North County high school seniors will take part in graduation ceremonies in coming weeks. For some, the occasion will mark the close of their formal schooling. For most though, it will mark the opening of their college education.
"It's an exciting time in their lives," said Jeralyn Johns, career counselor at Poway High School, "but the college admissions process does create a great deal of anxiety. There's so much to be done, and there's a lot of pressure put on the students.
"They have to fill out applications, take achievement tests and make decisions regarding their future while they're still taking difficult classes here in high school."
Poway High will hold its graduation exercises on June 20, but most of the college-bound students there and at high schools throughout North County have already thought far ahead of that date.
A majority of North County's graduating seniors--from an estimated 60% at Escondido High School to 96% at Torrey Pines High--go on to either a two-year or four-year college. Others choose to attend technical schools, join the military or go directly into the work force.
Many students who enroll at a two-year college do so with the intention of transferring later to a four-year school; some students enroll at a university but take classes at a junior college.
Poway High, which holds workshops for its students on how to best select a school and apply for admission, sends about 70% of its graduates on to college--40% to four-year colleges and universities, 30% to junior colleges.
The ratios at some other North County high schools:
Escondido High School, 15% to four-year colleges; 45% to two-year colleges;
El Camino High in Oceanside, 25% to four-year; 60% to two-year;
Rancho Buena Vista in Vista, 30% to four-year; 45% to two-year;
Vista High School, 20% to four-year; 60% to two-year;
San Dieguito in Encinitas, 50% to four-year, 40% to two year;
Torrey Pines High in Del Mar, 68% to four-year; 28% to two-year.
Percentages aside, the decision to go to college is a very personal one dictated by a variety of factors including aptitude, commitment, finances and opportunity.
Here's what nine college-bound Poway High students plan to do:
Starting at Palomar
Itchung Cheung will attend San Marcos-based Palomar Community College, where he has a scholarship in biological science.
Although Cheung will study biology at Palomar, he would like to move on to environmental science and transfer to UCSD in two years.
Meanwhile, he will live at home to save money for his education. "I'd like to help educate the public on environmental issues," said Cheung, who currently serves on the Poway High School committee for recycling.
Commuting to SDSU
Bryan Lubic will live at home and commute to San Diego State University.
Lubic said he waited until January to apply, but was accepted at SDSU, where he may major in philosophy or give thought to law school.
Lubic will be one of the many enrollees of four-year colleges who also attend a community college. "I'll use concurrent enrollment at Miramar College to help get my general education out of the way, and to get the classes I don't get at State," he said, "and I'll have to work for spending money and for expenses."
He would like to eventually transfer to UCSD.
Moving to UCSD
Francine Frank plans to major in English, psychology or political science at UCSD, with an eye toward a career in law or psychology. She plans to live on campus at UCSD in the Warren Apartments, where she estimates her expenses will be about $11,300 per year.
Frank is working to line up education funds from a variety of sources. She says she is eligible for $10,000 in aid, but that sum will cover only about the first year of her schooling,
"I'll have to come up (with) the rest of the money through work-study, grants, private scholarships and loans. I'm applying for about 20 scholarships--I want to use as few loans as possible."
The proximity of UCSD was a factor in Frank's choosing the school. "I wanted to be away from home but still close enough to go back home for the basics, you know, food and laundry. Plus, my family's all in this area."
Joining sister at Marymount
Lara Herndon will begin her college experience this fall at Marymount College of Palos Verdes, a private junior college.
Herndon, who is a triplet, will join her sister at Marymount while their brother attends Palomar College. She'll study education with a minor in dance in hopes of becoming a preschool or kindergarten teacher.
Tuition, room and board at Marymount costs about $15,000 a year. Financing her education isn't an issue for Herndon: her grandmother, who was a school teacher, left money for the family's education.
As for choosing Marymount, a relatively distant junior college, "I wanted to enjoy a college experience that was like a four-year school and get away from home," said Herndon. "Plus, it's near the beach and not too far from home."