Graduation Day

June 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thousands of valley students are graduating high school this week and looking forward to the future. While that is certainly something to celebrate, they'll soon be entering college or the workforce in some very uncertain economic times. For that reason, some are now changing their plans and staying closer to home.Smiling students filed into the Save Mart Center with a proud stride to the sounds of pomp and circumstance and cheering family members. "I'm leaving high school and going into college and that really excites me. It's not more that I'm sad, I'm just really excited to move on," said Hoover High Valedictorian Samuel Jensen.

Moving on for Samuel Jensen and others means college but tough times have many students planning to attend community colleges rather than larger public and private universities. "If I was going to choose to go out of town I would have had to have gotten an apartment, I'd be paying more for school, and tuition and living costs," said graduate Sara Prieto.

Prieto and fellow graduate David Holford are both headed to Fresno City College in the fall. "It's cheaper to get the GE done so I can kind of get it out of the way and stay close to home," said Holford.

Community Colleges across the state are seeing an increase in enrollment during these tough economic times. Fresno City College is already seeing an 18.5 % increase in enrollment. "We were out in the high schools this past spring enrolling students and at every high school we saw an increased enrollment," said Dr. Cynthia Azari, Fresno City College's President.

The savings between universities and community colleges can be significant. After a recent fee increase, a full time student will pay $2,000 in enrollment fees for a semester at Fresno State, compared to $257 dollars at Fresno City College.

Still, as the Hoover High School graduates crossed the stage Monday, the economy was probably the last thing on their minds. While reality may eventually catch up with them, for now it's all about a job well done.

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