BY LUKE FRANKLIN
Making the commitment to a four-year college is no walk in the park. Though it may be overlooked, the facts that more than a third of students transfer from their four-year commitments at least once and only 60 percent of four-year students finish school in six years or less shows the significance of this trend, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and the U.S. Department of Education.
John Duncan, a 2012 graduate of CHS who initially was accepted into UCLA biomedical engineering program and finished at Westmont College, had an interesting college path. Despite the fact that the 4.7 GPA scholar and CHS valedictorian had committed to a four-year university with the prestige of UCLA, in hindsight, Duncan says he would have taken a different approach.
“I hadn’t spent enough time exploring careers through informational interviews and other tools I used later when I decided to transfer,” Duncan says. “So I was pretty lost at UCLA.”
The valedictorian describes the process of finding his college during high school as “tumultuous.” Duncan says that he takes complete responsibility for his level of preparedness that led to UCLA not being the best fit for him at that time. The 2012 graduate transferred after his second semester at UCLA to Monterey Peninsula College, which he says allowed him to learn more about himself.
Another CHS alumnus, Lauren Salvati graduated in 2016 before enrolling in Sierra Nevada College for one semester. A dual-sport athlete in soccer and softball, Salvati had to make some difficult choices regarding sports and college during her senior year.
“I wasn’t getting into my dream schools, and I wasn’t getting recruited to the places I would have liked, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon a couple good options like Sierra Nevada College for soccer,” Salvati says.
Though Salvati had a tough time finding schools that fit her goals, she eventually found her home out of state due to, at the time, her love for soccer.
“I ended up choosing soccer over softball right out of high school because I thought I was happiest with my SNC offer,” Salvati notes.
Even with her seemingly ideal choice for her college, Salvati soon realized her love for softball and transferred back home to enroll at MPC.
“What I soon realized was how unhappy I was with my choice,” Salvati says. “I felt so empty without my first love, softball. This then led me to come back and transfer to Monterey Peninsula College for softball.”
Salvati says that she made the decision to enroll at SNC due to what seemed like a tremendous amount of stress at the time.
“I felt a lot of pressure to make the choice on SNC because my parents, coaches and peers all held high expectations for me, but what I didn’t realize was they would have been fine with whatever college I had chosen,” Salvati comments.
The former two-sport athlete adds that she was the one who put the most pressure on herself in the end because of the “cool” school and “fancy” scholarship.
This path of committing to a four-year school and then deciding transfer or go back home is common among college students around the nation.
Some students like Zack Olivas, though, don’t return to a university at all. The 2013 CHS graduate and Chapman student for two years dropped out of college and took a route different from that of the average student. After Olivas withdrew from Chapman, he was offered a job in Silicon Valley, which he accepted and never looked back.
“I started there and eventually was trusted to build and market a six-figure marketing campaign at a startup,” Olivas explains. “Among the infinite list of things school does not expose you to, that’s gotta be at the top.”
Olivas pushes the idea that young people don’t need to go to college, rather that one finds creative and unique ways to make a living without spending thousands for “a piece of paper with a badge on it.”
“If you’re driven, smart and want to get ahead of the curve, still go to college,” Olivas says, “but sign up for Team Treehouse, study marketing in your spare time, get a real estate license and start locking down paid or unpaid internships.”