May 1 marks the National Response Date for high school seniors to declare their college choice. By now, high school seniors have a piece of their future laid out for them. What exactly do Santa Barbara High School students intend to do?
According to the Santa Barbara School District website, 80 percent of SBHS graduates pursue post-secondary education. The site continues that “approximately 35 percent attend four-year institutions and 45 percent attend two-year institutions,” most notably our very own Santa Barbara City College. However, students are moving well beyond our city, our state, and even our nation in their pursuit of education. As I found out, the ambitious and sometimes adventurous nature is drawing seniors all over the world.
Santa Barbara High hosts a fair number of students who will be attending East Coast schools, including John Hopkins, Dartmouth, Tufts, Duke, MIT, NYU, and Georgetown. These prestigious schools boast the talents of the students attending them, whether it is music composition, physics or volleyball. Acceptance into such noteworthy schools is difficult to turn down, and the location provides major differences from the Southern California lifestyle. The East Coast is appealing to many for city life, and of course, the mere idea of snow.
Santa Barbara grads are also attracted to the Pacific Northwest in search for adventure. Lauren Boucher will be attending University of Washington this fall in pursuit of a major in environmental studies and an emphasis in environmental policy. Boucher is a fourth-generation Santa Barbarian, but hopes to branch outward. “College is such an experimental period in your life, so why not start in another environment?” she asked. “Moving is a necessary step to growth and self-discovery,” Boucher continued, “and the biggest potential for growth is to test your limits.” Although she intends to step out into the world in order to learn about different lifestyles and cultures, she would love to return to Santa Barbara one day. “The sad part of this is leaving and knowing that I’ll have to work the rest of my life to find enough money to move back: [With Santa Barbara], there really is no comparison.”
Many students follow Boucher’s wish of branching out, but only a few go so far as to pursue their education internationally. Come fall, Kensey Daly will be attending University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he will major in environmental Science with a focus in conservation biology. Daly has lived across the country and is “ready for a new adventure.” Scotland appealed to her because of her heritage and her family, not to mention the fact that they speak English in Scotland. The university itself only takes three years to complete because it requires no general education courses, a major incentive over American universities. Although Daly hasn’t visited campus yet and is having difficulty imagining the weather, she’s looking forward to the move.
Geoffrey Parker and Isaiah Armstrong-Collier are two of many students who will be staying in town for school. Compared to four-year institutions, SBCC general education classes are inexpensive, and in some cases, can provide a better education. “Higher institutions of learning cost more than they are worth,” Parker reasoned. “City College is more interested in educating its students while universities make a profit through students’ intellect.” While Parker’s decision to stay in Santa Barbara appeals to his morals, the financial aspect was a more important factor for Armstrong-Collier. “I would like to experience another place eventually,” he said, “just to do something different.” Parker agrees-once done with his general requirements, he’s ready to take on the world. “Santa Barbara is an amazing town in and of itself, but there are so many things to see.”
While the world beckons some, others are content staying exactly where they are. Come fall, Michelle Villa will be entering Santa Barbara City College with plans to transfer to UCSB. She was born and raised in Santa Barbara, but currently lives in Oxnard. Although Villa hasn’t traveled much outside of Southern California, she feels that Santa Barbara is the right place for her. The small-town feel, beautiful landscape, and unique architecture make Villa wish to stay here for the rest of her life. Soon-to-be UCSB student Jennifer Simonson feels the same way. Despite wherever her college years take her, she would love to eventually live in Santa Barbara because here, things are “just perfect.”