The pandemic crushed their college plans. So why aren’t these Bay Area high school seniors complaining?

Estefany Velasquez, a rising senior at Oakland Charter High, always wanted to go far away for college, perhaps all the way to the Ivy League.

But the coronavirus disrupted those aspirations: Without a computer for months, she had to juggle online school from her phone, brother’s laptop and cousin’s house. Science enrichment programs were no longer an option. And the financial turmoil she saw around her put her concerns about affording college into sharp focus.

Most of all, she realized she wants to stay close to home.

“After the pandemic happened, well, that’s when your family needs you the most,” she said. “If anything like this happens again, I want to be here instead of all the way across the country.”

Velasquez is one of many rising Bay Area high school seniors for whom the events of the past 16 months have altered — and in some cases upended — their plans for life after high school. They’re opting for community college, staying close to home or deferring school altogether.

According to a nationwide survey conducted by the nonprofit group America’s Promise Alliance, nearly 80% of high school students in the classes of 2021 and 2022 say the pandemic has affected their post-graduation plans. The effects may be especially pronounced, education experts speculated, for Bay Area seniors, who unlike students in other parts of the country, have spent most or all of their junior year online.

The motivations for a change in plans are manifold, but family finances are at the top of many students’ minds, whether it’s parents who have lost income or students who have had to step up into leadership roles as family earners and caregivers. Students also say their mental health and educational achievement have taken a hit, making them less competitive for college or personally ready.

“You have to be really realistic now,” said Lizette Chavez, a rising senior at Lincoln High School in San Jose. “Before, we could have imagined different things, like, ‘Oh, I want to go to Berkeley, or I want to go to Stanford.’ And now, we’ve matured.”

She’s aiming for UC Davis or perhaps Riverside now. She would be the first person in her family to go to college. And while no one told her directly not to dream, the message came through when teachers told their classes they were falling behind.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – July 15: SAT and AP study guides are placed in the shelf at the Breakthrough Silicon Valley’s office in Hoover Middle School on July 15, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

According to academic counselors in Bay Area high schools, the most visible change in student plans is that more are opting for community colleges instead of state universities. According to the America’s Promise Alliance study, nearly a quarter of kids who said their plans have changed now plan to attend a two-year instead of a four-year institution.

Such a rise was already a trend before the pandemic, but it’s been accelerated, according to Erika Luna, the head counselor at …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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