High schoolers around the country get the same message starting freshman year: the paths they choose after they graduate are crucial The seniors at SLA are no exception and prepare to make a life-defining commitment to a post-graduate program.
Aside from programs, location, and cost another important part of making the college decision is the type of college/university to attend. Varieties of these include private colleges, public colleges, trade schools, or community college. Knowing how to decipher between these types for the best possible result may be more difficult than it appears due to the benefits and shortcomings of each type of schools.
As a citywide admissions school, SLA prides itself on helping students get into elite schools with competitive admissions. But does this focus overlook the value of less prestigious, but more affordable schools?
“SLA college counselors and other teachers recommended me liberal arts school and I think that’s because a liberal arts school is most similar to SLA,” Senior Messele Asfaw said in response to what types of post high school education SLA recommended.
Asfaw furthered this claim by saying he believes those who chose a liberal arts school did it because they wanted a similar learning environment to SLA. In a follow up he believed that a problem could occur from a formulaic recommendation.
“There’s a stigma against community college that certain students and faculty members have against it despite that option being a reasonable choice for certain people,” Asfaw critiqued about the college counseling students receive. In the end, Asfaw decided to attend Stony Brook because the engineering and film program.
Another student confirmed Asfaw’s perception.
“In general I think SLA gives recommendations based on types of schools that resemble [where the teachers went],” Majd Bostani stated. Bostani believes they do this to inform students about an opportunity to learn in a manner that replicates project-based material. However he also expressed there was an inconvenience with this method because they tend to favor institutions which mirror SLA’s style.
“A student looking for guidance would likely find conflict with the type of schools recommended because it’s rare for them to recommend schools outside of a university,” Bostani claimed.
“I knew where I wanted to go based on my own research and parental guidance,” Sean DeSilva explained. DeSilva progressed his statement and said this tactic allowed to look aside from educational institutions which mirrored SLA’s ideals. DeSilva furthered this implying SLA had bias towards certain types of colleges.
“I think that looking over community colleges could potentially waste a reliable option due to the stigma around it,” DeSilva stated. In the end, DeSilva decided to attend LaSalle.
Another anonymous student described a past incident where her brother had an unpleasant confrontation about his choice to attend Community College of Philadelphia. This incident lead to her deciding to not ask the college counselor for guidance because of how attending community college was taboo for her brother.
Some seniors at SLA believe Community College is looked down upon by faculty members, and even their own peers. This could result in a lack of motivation for students who know they cannot attend a university due to cost or other factors.
“My job is to let students know about a wide range of schools,” Mrs. Hirschfield the college counselor asserted. She also explained that despite the stigma against community college a significant portion of SLA students have attended each of the past 4 years (10%).
“I think that there is a stigma, but I don’t think it’s exclusive to SLA,” she stated. This point was proceeded with her opinion, which is people do this because selective schools are valued more in a professional setting. For instance a Bachelor’s degree is more prestigious than an associate’s degree, but applicants overlook the option of transferring to a university.
Furthermore, she stated this stigma could result in a negative college experience for future students due to chasing prestigious validations. Hirschfield denounced the practice of automatically overlooking community options.
“If a student said they wanted to go to CCP I’d support the choice, it’s just I want students to be aware of all their options…maybe that’s where the misunderstanding comes from,” she addressed when asked about a student not coming to college counseling.
Through these interviews it was apparent SLA had a miscommunication with the types of colleges recommended. This misunderstanding stems from the difficult of balancing practical options and not wanting to sell students short of their potential.
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