Facing high costs for college, increasing interest rates on student loans, and then global competition for jobs, the
wondered if members of La Jolla's Class of 2013 (graduating Tuesday, June 11) feel lucky. Here are their thoughts.
By Ashley Mackin
La Jolla High School’s Class of 2013 knows for a fact that the days of “degree preferred” have been replaced by “degree required.” They are planning accordingly. Approximately 92 percent of the graduating class will attend a two-year or four-year college in the fall.
Six seniors, interviewed by
La Jolla Light
prior to their June 11 graduation, said they see going to college as a privilege, but also a necessity. Having witnessed the recession and spiked unemployment rates, these students view a career as the ultimate goal and plan to use every resource available to them to land a job right out of college.
Though generally optimistic about their futures, the students have a heightened awareness about the economic prospects that await them.
“Nowadays, the more education you get the more job opportunities you have,” said senior and ASB President Daniel Hamilton. The UC Berkeley-bound business major said he plans to go to school, work for a few years, and then go to a different school to earn a Master’s of Business Administration.
Achieving not just a degree, but also a graduate degree, is a factor several students see in starting a career.
“(My parents) always told me ‘if you want a good job, you have to go to college’ and ‘you’ll get a better job with a higher degree,’” said Lauren Robertson, who will attend San Diego State University to study business and pre-med. She said she will attend graduate school as soon as she finishes her pre-med degree because “I’d like to get right on track with my life and my career,” she said, “I want to start right away.”
For Hamilton, the push to get ahead in the game comes from changes in the working world. “I think our country as a whole is more aware of ourselves on an international playing field, as opposed to just San Diego or California or the United States,” he said. “I’m aware now that I’m going to be competing with people across the world for the best jobs and opportunities, not just my classmates.”
Soon-to-be biology and pre-med major at Indiana State, Billy Penny, agreed. “We have to take advantage of the education we’ve been given and not make the same mistakes that generations before us have made,” he said. “Some people just sit at home when they have the opportunity to go to college.”
Erin Riley, who will study communications and public relations at Chico State University, said she feels the same way. “I’m lucky to be able to go to a four-year college. It’s an opportunity and you should take advantage of it when you have it.”
To fund that education, most of the students are looking into scholarships. While many will get assistance from their parents, Hamilton and Penny are taking out student loans. Noting recent increases in interest rates for such loans, they maintained loans are something they have to do.
“I don’t mind taking out student loans to finance my education, I think it’s worth it,” Hamilton said. However, rising interest rates “are definitely a concern. I’m weighing the options, but am optimistic and hopeful that the opportunity I’ll get from the loan will outweigh the cost.”
Once they finish college, these students said they would seize every opportunity to get their foot in the door and secure a job right out of college. Hamilton said he would start looking for internships after his first year. “Networking and making the right connections and knowing the right people can help someone be successful,” he said.
Riley plans to go where the connections are. “I know the Communications Department has a lot of connections in San Francisco, so living there is a possibility,” she said. Robertson said she started working at local retail shops in high school to gain a head start. “Having some experience is a good way to integrate myself into the workforce because I’ll have had prior work experience,” she said. “It’ll be a whole different field of work, but it’s still working with people.”
Planning ahead makes these students feel more prepared, but it can add to the pressures of being a teenager.
Margaret Haerr, future UC Santa Barbara student said, “Everyone comes from different situations and knows what’s good for them, but there is a ton of pressure on everyone to go to big universities when maybe it would make more sense for them to go to a junior college.”
One of those taking a slightly different path is Dylan Walsh, who will leave for Naval Academy training on June 25. Having looked into the military for the past several years, Walsh chose the Naval Academy because it offers the choice of graduating as a Naval Officer or as a Marine Corps officer, or the option to remain in the service.
Walsh said with a five-year commitment, the military would pay for his education. “So I’d probably be in for five or 10 years and have some great experiences, and then get into the civilian sector,” he said. He also plans to get an MBA and if he still serving in the military, the military would pay for that as well.
Of life after high school, Walsh said, “Obviously you’re a little bit nervous about it, but in the end, you’re excited to move on from these four years and branch out and do your own thing, so it should be exciting.”
Do they feel the class of 2013 is lucky? If it combines hope with preparedness, then the answer is yes.
“There is a lot more that will happen in the future, a lot of good things and a lot of bad things, but with a good college education, you can handle it better and be more prepared,” Robertson said.
Hamilton added, “I am a little nervous, there is always anxiety, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be OK. I’ve had a great upbringing with supportive parents, fantastic teachers and mentors. They helped me and shaped me and got me prepared for whatever the world has in store for me. I’m confident I’ll be able to be successful and live a good, peaceful, well-rounded life.”
By the Numbers
■ School: La Jolla High
■ Graduates: 349 (162 girls, 187 boys)
■ Going on to a four-year college: 70 percent
■ Going on to community college: 22 percent
■ Students with GPA of 4.0 plus: 97