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Our Opinion: A college-going culture

December 13, 2001

It is a sad thing here in the Imperial Valley that parents, who always want the best for their children, often are the ones who hold back their offspring.

Frequently young people graduate from local high schools or Imperial Valley College, and with everything in order to go away to college, including finances, parents keep their children from leaving. And if the young person does go away to college, it is often the parents soon moaning that the son or daughter must come home.

Many parents here don't see the value of a college education, particularly when the young person can start making a decent wage right out of high school.

Local educators are continually frustrated by such situations. Some of our best and brightest people often end up working in menial jobs.

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Many programs have tried to address this problem in recent years, many with some degree of success. Still, more needs to be done if the Valley is ever going to reach its potential.

Another program has started with the aim of getting students from the Imperial Valley onto University of California campuses and creating a "college-going culture" here. The UC's Office of the President is working with IVC, San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus and local school districts in implementing the program.

The UCOP, citing the fact that too few students from rural areas of the state are attending UC campuses, picked the Imperial Valley as the only area in the state where it would implement the program. A UCOP official said part of the reason for coming here is county Schools Superintendent John Anderson and his team of educators are people of vision. The area's low teacher turnover rate and good technological resources were cited as other reasons for setting up the program here.

The idea is to bring resources to the Valley to train educators and start preparing young people to go to UC campuses. Those involved with the program intend to start getting such students moving in the right direction as early as junior high.

Many parents here don't have a sense of what their children need to do or what classes they need to take to get their children into top colleges. This program will address that need. We also are convinced that the parents have to be educated on how letting their children go away can be a good thing in the long run. That may be a much harder sell.

Students attending UC campuses will come back to the area to serve as role models for the younger students. Program activities will go on throughout the year, according to organizers.

We and others often go on and on about advancing ourselves in the Imperial Valley. There is no better place to start than with our young people. The "college-going culture" program will do just that.

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