Road To College A Bumpy One

Mayra Jimenez

Youth Radio's Mayra Jimenez, 17, has lived in Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles for most of her life. She hopes to study anthropology or sociology. In her spare time, she likes dabbling in DIY fashion and making her own clothes. Courtesy of Miguel Macias/ Youth Radio hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Miguel Macias/ Youth Radio

About a year ago, I had no real clue as to what I wanted to do after high school. I never thought I would be college material, but I was encouraged to try by my father:

"I would like for you to go to college — but to one where you'll feel comfortable and find the career you like, so that we can help you and you can help us in the future."

Watching people around me either getting pregnant, dropping out of school or becoming involved with drugs really makes me think. I would never want to be in their shoes. That's why I've been looking into the best school I can attend for the least amount of money. My brother Edgar was the first one in my family to go to college.

"My plan for college was to get through a three-year career," he said.

He became a role model and a great motivation. But lately, his experience is not looking all that good anymore. He lost his financial aid, and to this day, he hasn't been able to afford to finish college.

"In a way, in times like these, I find that people who work during high school have a chance to make it through a depression like this, because they gain experience from different jobs. They can put them in their resume, and they can find different jobs. As for me, I only had one job and many people don't see it as enough experience," he said.

So after all that time studying — and all that money spent on a private school — my brother is still unemployed. It makes me wonder: Is it worth it? That's why I'm only considering state schools, where tuition is much cheaper. But the way the economy is right now, my father will not be able to help me out with tuition like he did with my brother.

"When Edgar went to college, we had a bit more money," he told me. "And right now, we barely can cover the basic expenses."

At least my dad can support my family. I have one friend who is putting off college because her mom lost her job, so my friend needs to get a job to help pay the bills. My boyfriend, Steve Mendoza, wants to get right to work, too. He plans to learn a trade instead of going to college.

"I don't know, something to do with computers," he says. "I mean, I am doing bad in high school, so maybe I need to go to, like, a continuation school."

At first I was upset that Steve didn't want to go to college, but now I think it's great if he wants to study computers by attending a trade tech school. I do know college is the right choice for me. So I'll enroll in a community college next year, find a major I love that can lead to a job, and later transfer to California State University, Long Beach. I just hope I can afford it.

Youth Radio's Mayra Jimenez, 17, has lived in Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles for most of her life. She hopes to study anthropology or sociology. In her spare time, she likes dabbling in DIY fashion and making her own clothes.

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