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The Next Step

Highschool seniors, it was only a few weeks ago that you submitted your UC applications and your Common applications. Some of you may already be receiving offers and many of you are still anticipating decisions. I know that the topic of decisions is way too soon for some of you, you may just want to stop thinking about your future and just take each day one step at a time, but thinking about it now will save you a lot of time and frustration later on. High school seniors, I offer you these few pieces of advice to think about while you are choosing the college that you will be attending in the next chapter of your life.

Don’t pick for the prestige, pick for you.

From a young age, we are convinced that the nicer, the more known, and the most competitive schools are the ones you should be aiming for. It derives from the toxic mentality that we must constantly beat each other, step on our peers in order to get further in life. It also is focused on the idea that a name can get you anywhere, that picking somewhere with a good name and reputation will help you in the long run.

While you are picking your school, do not let the factor of their name and known prestige get to your head. Do the necessary research, there are some people who pick a school for the name, and then feel stuck when they find out that the school they chose did not offer a program for their interests. 

Do your research beforehand.

Find out if the schools you applied to actually have majors that will interest you if they have the programs you would want to take advantage of. Think about what it is you truly want if this school is going to help you in your future career. At the end of the day, you are going to college to advance your life chances and receive a higher education, it should not matter what school name is on the degree. 

Community college isn’t a bad thing.

For many people, the idea of going to community college is like saying you failed. You weren’t “good” enough to get into a 4-year college or university. This is a bad mentality to maintain. This will not only ruin your college experience but the self-esteem of yourself. It should not matter where you go, if this option is the best for you financially or if this is simply a better option for you, then you choose community college. Do not let yourself believe you are falling behind and do not let others make you feel that way. What you choose to do for yourself and your future should not be determined by what others think of you. 

Pay attention to your financial aid packages.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it is important to remember that some of you may be relying on financial aid to go to college. I urge you to gather all of your financial aid packets and compare them to each other, break down what the schools are charging you for and make a list of what is most expensive to the least. We often get swept away with the acceptance letters that we forget to actually start thinking about how it is you will be paying to go to college. College is expensive, they will use anything and everything to get money out of your pockets and into theirs. They are capitalizing off of your want for a higher education, so please remember that sometimes they will not have the best interest at heart for you. Do not let them take advantage of you by taking out multiple loans. If you can avoid taking out loans, the better it is for you in the future and the less stress you’ll have when you’re paying off your schooling.

College is not for everyone, don’t force yourself to go.

At a young age, the schooling system makes it seem that your only option to have a successful life is to get a degree. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Micheal Dell are just a few of the many rich and successful people in this world that dropped out of college. They still managed to be successful without the degree. If you feel in your heart that this is not the path that you want to take, that this path isn’t going to help you, then do not force yourself to go to college. There are many other options people can have that aren’t forcing themselves to go to college. 

High school seniors, in these unprecedented times, it may be very difficult to start thinking about your future and the paths you may choose to take but I urge you to think about these things now. You need to understand yourself and what you truly want for yourself before you start making these big decisions. So please, if you have the time, do your research or have a sit down with yourself and ask yourself what you want for your future. The next step is right around the corner and life doesn’t slow down for a second.

Jade Zuniga

UC Riverside '24

I am a first-year Psychology major who is looking to improve my writing skills. I love listening to music, watching movies, drinking boba, and playing with my cats.
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