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Community Commentary: Don't overlook smaller, out-of-state colleges

September 14, 2011|By Ted Gregory

Here we are — the three of us, our little but precious family, quietly cruising at 35,000 feet comfortably and rapidly heading toward the next chapter of our daughter's life: her first day at college.

I'm happy because I've lived long enough to experience and share this poignant moment. Our daughter has worked hard for her success and is proud, happy and a little scared at the same time, which is one reason her mother and I are sitting on either side of her. She appreciates our quiet reassurance.

I'm happy because we began planning financially for this event long ago, even if we haven't planned to the same degree emotionally. Together with our daughter's generous scholarships and grants, there is little or no financial strain, so we can savor this fleeting transition time together and share in her sense of accomplishment.

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I'm happy because our daughter has been open to options for college other than exclusively California alternatives. She is determined to become a nurse, minor in music, and graduate in four years from a liberal arts college. The average size of classes at her new school is 21 and 10 in lab classes, and she was admitted directly into their nursing program with honors. For this opportunity, I'm truly happy for her.

The deep sense of sadness comes not only from "losing" our little girl, who is now a young woman, but also because we have come to know and become very fond of many of her friends, who also are headed off to college. However, theirs, with a few exceptions, is a far different story.

One of her older friends, who enthusiastically started college three years ago determined to be a pediatric nurse, just dropped out of college in discouragement because she was only able to complete her sophomore year during her three years of attendance, and still not able to get into the nursing program the California State University had to offer, since it is "impacted," where more students apply for a program than the school can accommodate.

Another, with whom she graduated this year and who plans to attend a local California junior college, has only been able to register for two of the five classes she needs in order to later transfer to a state or UC campus.

A third male friend of hers, who graduated with high honors and was accepted to a UC, had his enthusiasm dampened when he discovered that he shared classes with as many as 200 other students. Had more male friends been sober, the classes would have been larger.

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