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College Bound or Bust

Updated on February 18, 2014


Volume 5, Issue 9, February 18, 2014

Before graduating from high school I barely pondered the issue of going to college I was more focused on obtaining a job. A job where I could maintain myself while living at home with my parents. Knowing this would provide an opportunity to my parents that they could have more cash in their budgets without having to provide the bare necessities for me, like clothing, shoes, and monetary relief.

At the time, there was a robust economy in 1974 when I was about to graduate from high school. Those were way back in the day and times were completely different from today’s economy and unemployment rate. At the time in 1974, the unemployment rate in 1974 was 5.6 percent of 16 years old and older. Today or as of 2013, it is at a 7.4 percent ratio rate, according to the Department of Labor Statistics (

In 1974, the reason for the high rate of unemployment is because of inflation and the high cost of goods and services. That is quite a contrast to the high unemployment rate today and it is coupled with the high rate of inflation and the lack of jobs in the labor pool. Experience, high school graduates, and the pool of college graduates is also a factor in the unemployment rate being so high today.

From experience I could say insightfully that I had problems focusing on whether or not I would even attend college at the time of high school graduation. I did not have the encouragement or attention to attending college in my life that others might have had. I am talking about my Anglo-Saxon and African-American counterparts. Although, I did hear them talk much about attending college I was not drawn into attending college nor did I have an encouraging parent that encouraged me to attend college. I did decide on my own to attend college and a factor that I was presented with at the time and I am sure it is a factor that many contemplate today is will I have the means to pay for college?

I was left with many other questions that I had to consider my options when I was discovering whether or not I was going to attend college. I considered the fact that I could get a quality and effective degree in junior college or community college that would take me further in my career than I anticipated with lower costs for certificate programs and specialty programs that I was truly interested in.

A person must have focus on what career they are interested in and like or love it. Because, if they do focus and not like it then; it is inevitable that they will not become successful in it. For example, if I were to take courses that involved a lot of math and arithmetic but, I did not like it or enjoy doing it, then a career in using or engaging a lot of math or arithmetic in my career would not be suitable for me. There must be a focus, liking, or love of doing the work that you aspire to be great in.

Different careers are sometimes inevitable in career paths also; I learned that I had changes in my career path at least every five years. Sometimes we also want to check on the ladder of success in the workplace and if it is a path we want to take when we are looking for employment and if they offer challenges to your growth in the long-term.

I often saw many of my friends who actually dropped out of school because of the lack of focus driven or guided by their parents. There were many who dropped out of school because of the fact they thought they thought they could be just as successful out of high school then college. The fact is that college was not instilled early on by parents during this time frame of people of Latino descent who I would associate with. We didn’t even talk about it, as much as, my counterparts. For some reason it was not something we talked about, but in looking back in the age or era, schooling and education was still in its infancy of growth for Latinos or people of color. Remember, it was just in a year earlier in 1973, that desegregation took place in the Supreme Court and equal education and access was now available to people of color, where it was not available before. It had an impact on the mindset of the era.

So what was the mindset of the Latina in 1974? Speaking from experience, we did not consider it very important because it was not something my parents emphasized or encouraged me to do. What about Latino men? Speaking from an angle of perception and observation, I could say that seeing men that I grew up with and hearing their viewpoints was that they were very general labor oriented and they were encouraged to get a job before or swiftly after graduation to support the family. They were also not encouraged by perceiving some of my male friends interactions with parents to attend college, as much as, the Anglo-Saxon or African-American male counterparts. Only a few handful I knew went onto college and they were considered the good boys or catholic school attendee’s and not regular high school friends. I was socially active with more Catholic school boys and men than I was the normal high school friends.

I did not think to look for grants like FAFSA or scholarships before I graduated or applied to. There was also the issue of looking for the right college. At the time, we simply did not have Internet access nor had it been created or developed. Students today have the Internet to look at virtual college classrooms and experiences, as well as, the traditional views. A place to check out student reviews would be at where you will get an idea of how the students feel about colleges. Another great place to look for scholarships is Fastweb scholarships and it will give you an idea of scholarships that are out there. In addition, if you apply for FAFSA they will refer you to a link and you can also ask the colleges if there are Internet sites you can apply for scholarships both associated or non-associated with the school.

The mindset for Catholic or parochial schools may have been different but, I did not know it at the time.

Compared to today in 1974 we had a 78.2 percent Latino high school graduation rate compared to 1/2013 the rate is over a forty-year period of increased earning potential and college bound Latinos in the United States, according to Reuter’s reports in Chicago (


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