Before the celebration of graduation, another important occasion dominates the attention of many JUSD seniors: committing to a college. For some students, the decision is easy. They know their top school going in and are ready to commit the moment they are accepted. Other students need to weigh their options.
Matthew Torre’s decision came down to two schools: Stanford and the University of Southern California - Los Angeles (USC). The Patriot High valedictorian gathered as much information as he could to make the most informed decision possible. He visited the campuses, tallied scholarships and financial aid offers, compared degree programs, and considered advice from counselors, teachers, and relatives.
“A lot of their advice comes down to: how well do you see yourself fitting in at a particular university? How do you see yourself kind of contributing to the student life and kind of contributing to the university as a whole?” said Matthew, who plans to study economics.
Ultimately, the place Matthew sees himself spending the next four years is Stanford. “Those are all movers and shakers. People who are trying to make a big difference in the world,” he said, of the students and faculty. “That’s something I [can] see myself fitting into because I’ve always had a lot of ambition, and…that’s a place where I [can] pursue that with people who are like-minded.”
Kylie Carmona was accepted to over a dozen schools in multiple states but knew in her heart where she would end up. “It has to be UC San Diego,” said the Rubidoux High senior. “I feel most at home there and I feel that I won't have to change much of myself to fit in there. None of the other UCs have caught me the way San Diego does.”
In addition to boasting an impressive coastal location, San Diego is a top-ranked UC when it comes to mechanical engineering, which is what Kylie plans to study. But as a first-generation college student, Kylie has anxieties about entering a rigorous STEM program. Despite her academic achievements, she often feels doubted by others because of her background. “I think that’s the only thing that scares me. That when I get there, I’m going to be feeding into [others’] expectations for me and I don’t want to do that,” she shared. “But I’m still willing to put in the work.”
Some college decisions require a leap of faith. For Diana Lopez, that means traveling to the other side of the country to attend Wellesley College in Massachusetts even though she has never lived beyond Southern California. “I don't know anybody over there,” said the Jurupa Valley High valedictorian. “That's one of the best parts about going to a new place, but I'm not an extrovert, so socializing with new people is kind of intimidating.”
Diana hopes she will adjust quickly to the new community and weather as she majors in physics, a subject she chose because it challenges her more than other areas of science. “I’m really sensitive to the cold,” she admitted. “But I think it’ll be cool to be snowed in and not be able to go anywhere.”
Now that college decisions have been made, seniors are formulating their summer plans. Some will work to save money. Others will take a well-deserved break between four years of high school and four years of college. Diana Moreno, who graduated from Nueva Vista High in March, is ready to begin the next chapter of her life.
Diana is enrolled in a summer class at Riverside City College (RCC), the first course in her corrections program. She plans to pursue a healthy balance of part-time school and part-time work. “I don’t know what to expect,” she said, “but I’m also ready for anything.” Like many students, Diana is nervous about not doing well. But she has learned from her teachers and counselors that if her program at RCC does not work out, she can try something else. She can keep trying until she finds the right thing. “There’s never an age to not go to college,” she said.