Economy Pushes More Students Toward Community College

April 18, 2012
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The changing economic times – with a continuously sluggish economy – has changed the game plan for many Revere High School (RHS) students pursuing a higher education next year.

While many students at RHS continue to head off to storied universities – and even some Ivy League schools – a growing number who do not land plumb scholarships have had to face economic realities, and those students are looking more towards the state community college system. Whereas before their backup plan might have been a less-heralded four-year college, students are now falling back on community college.

This school vacation week, while students have traditionally visited the schools they are considering, many are busy figuring out the enrollment process at various local community colleges.

“We have a number of students that are very strong students who have chosen to do the Bunker Hill or North Shore Community College route because of finances,” said Revere High Guidance Counselor Maureen Lenihan. “It’s the economy, absolutely. We’re hearing that because of financial struggles it’s where they have to go. I do see it as a trend. I’m seeing more kids choose the community college system. Colleges are very expensive. More kids and parents are looking at this option very seriously. The community college option is a very good option for the economy we’re in

right now.”

Lenihan said that many students – though community college might not be their heart’s desire at the moment – might end up in a better  position in the long run.

“Hopefully, in two years their situation will change and they can transfer somewhere else, maybe to the college they always wanted with a great scholarship,” she said. “They’re being very wise in my opinion. It’s the best deal going really. We have a scholarship for Bunker Hill and North Shore and, surprisingly, we’re actually going to have a pretty heavy competition for that scholarship this year.”

Lenihan added that the cost of college has become so high for many students that they end up with quite a bit of debt after attending a four-year university. That, she said, is one advantage of taking the community college route.

Those who attend their first two years at community college and then transfer to a university will incur significantly lower amounts of debt for college – thus freeing them up a bit in the long run.

Despite that change in choice, Lenihan said the quality of the students in this year’s class is of the highest. The change in many college decisions from four-year to community college, she said, only reflects the condition of financing.

“This is a very competitive class,” she said. “I like this class and I think they have and will do very, very well after high school. I think the new schedule here has students taking more rigorous classes and their transcripts are really showing that and colleges are seeing it…UMass-Amherst has been very good to us this year. They’ve taken a lot more than they usually have. Our kids are showing the rigor and showing they can take the difficult classes and succeed.”

Lenihan said there are two students going to Ivy League schools at this point, one to Harvard University and the other to Dartmouth University.

In addition, students are also headed to Boston College, Villanova, Hamilton College, the University of Tennessee, Boston University, University of Connecticut, Babson College, American University, University of Maine, and even California State-San Marcos, among many others as well.

Most seniors will finalize their college choices by mid-May.

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