As another year of college acceptances comes to a close, the distribution of students going to different colleges from Berkeley High School (BHS) has become increasingly apparent. In particular, larger numbers of the graduating class at BHS are attending college in California, while smaller numbers are attending out-of-state colleges and universities.
In 2017, about half of BHS’s graduating class went to either a California State University (CSU) or a California Community College, while an additional 16 percent of students went to a University of California (UC) school. This makes for a total of about 63 percent of all students going to college in state. This trend has been mirrored throughout the past few years; more and more graduating BHS seniors are staying in California.
According to Mary Jacobs, the College and Career Center (CCC) assistant at BHS, this high percentage of students going to community colleges and CSUs is partly caused by financial motives, as out of state colleges and universities can be much more expensive. “We’re seeing an increase in community college [enrollment] because of the competitive nature of colleges and the cost,” said Jacobs.
The average tuition for a community college in California is just $1,636. In contrast, the average tuition at a UC is $13,900 and at a private college, the average tuition is cited by the College Board as being as high as $34,740. Many out of state colleges or universities can even cost up to $70,000 per year. These high costs added to transportation, food, and housing, result in a tremendous amount of money.
According to Jacobs, community colleges offer not only lower tuitions but also an environment in which students are able to explore many of their own interests while acquiring credits to transfer to a UC or another four year college.
The Transfer Admissions Guarantee program is an option that allows students who have completed 60 semester credits in a community college and have a grade point average of at least 2.4 to have a guaranteed spot at a UC of their choice. This is a huge part of the allure of community colleges. “The programs around here make the transfer very successful,” said Jacobs.
BHS alumna Gwynne Jacobs, who went to a community college and later transferred to UC Berkeley, echoes the sentiment that community college provides a less competitive environment and an edge when transferring to UCs.
She did not get into her top choices for UCs and wanted to stay in the Bay Area, and therefore decided to go to a local community college instead.
“It’s definitely something that’s a less glamorous option,” said Jacobs, “but when you do it, the tuition is free and I ended up going to UC Berkeley and from there to med school.”
The CCC at BHS offers information about many different college and career pathways. It has three full-time counselors, two college counselors, and one career pathway counselor. “We welcome anyone to stop by and ask questions,” said Jacobs. The CCC is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM.