‘Young people look down upon working at McDonald’s and flipping burgers, but their parents had a different word for flipping burgers. They called it ‘opportunity’.”
By MATTHEW CHONG
As the year draws to a close, UHS seniors are about to begin a new phase in their lives. Some have chosen to enter the workforce, while others have decided to attend college following graduation. With regards to the latter, members of the graduating class have committed to a variety of universities from the West Coast to the East Coast and even outside of the country.
But for various reasons, a number of students have opted to stay close to home. Some have chosen to attend the University of California, Irvine (UCI) campus, while others are taking the community college route, fulfilling their general education requirements at institutions such as Orange Coast College (OCC) or Irvine Valley College (IVC).
“I wanted to stay close to home, receive scholarships and work towards my intended major,” Ryan Rafi (Sr.) said. “All of these put together made me decide to attend UCI.” Though Rafi was accepted to Johns Hopkins University (JHU), he ultimately chose to stay in Irvine to study biomedical engineering (BME.) “I got in for [Hopkins’s] biology program instead of their BME program. Since that wasn’t my intended major, I thought ‘Why go to another school and spend $70,000 when I can go to UCI, which is five minutes away from where I live, and spend less than a quarter of that amount?’”
Like Rafi, biology major Eric Kawana (Sr.) chose to attend UCI due to its proximity. Being a member of the UHS track team, Kawana had to consider the opportunities his college offered with regards to sports and outdoor activities. “[UCI’s] location is very convenient. I love to explore the trails here, and they run throughout Irvine, leading to Newport and other cities as well. You can see all these pretty places and without having to travel so far away.”
Other students such as Aydin Yolar (Sr.) chose to attend local institutions for their familiarity. After living in Thailand for the past eight years, Yolar moved back to Irvine for his senior year of high school. “Because I’ve lived overseas for so many years, my family and I decided that it’s best if I stay here one or two more years, just so that I can get used to things back here [in Irvine] again,” he said. After graduating, Yolar will attend classes at Irvine Valley College, since he has not yet chosen a major.
His situation was quite different from that of Dylan Agiman (Sr.), a computer science major. “I had a lot of options, like the University of Texas and the California Institute of Technology (CalTech,)” Agiman said. “I didn’t want any huge budget constraints if I attended a school like CalTech, which has a cost two to three times that of UCI.” Agiman, like his peers, has no regrets about staying in Irvine for another four years. “Bill Gates said something along the lines of, ‘Young people look down upon working at McDonald’s and flipping burgers, but their parents had a different word for flipping burgers. They called it ‘opportunity.’’ I think that Irvine is a launching platform for better things to come.”
During his journey through the college admissions process, Jewelito Castelar (Sr.) had to consider offers of admission from New York University and University of California, Santa Barbara. “A part of me wanted to choose another school [besides UCI] because most of my friends were leaving,” he said. “But out of all the colleges that I got into, Irvine seemed like the better choice because financially, it was the cheapest and it’d be easier to commute rather than pay extra for room and board.”
The university’s engineering school also affected Castelar’s decision, since he had chosen chemical engineering as his choice of major. “I was somewhat disappointed about my decision at first, but when I thought about it realistically, I realized that I had made a good choice.”
In spite of its location, some people have chosen to make the most out of their college experiences. For example, materials science and engineering major Joberto Lee (Sr.) will live in a dorm during his time as an Anteater. “It’s good to have experience living on your own and it’s a lot easier to be involved with school activities when you dorm,” he said. “I’m planning on going to grad school, so I only applied to schools where I would have an easy time maintaining a good GPA. UCI is the perfect fit because not only will it be fairly easy, but I’ll also be able to continue my research at the university for another four years.”
For those choosing to attend a local college, they will receive a college education at lower costs, while also being in familiar surroundings. Even if this situation takes away some of a student’s independence, it isn’t necessarily a good or a bad one. For Lee’s part, he has no qualms about his commitment to a local UC. “Life is all about making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains, and don’t worry about what other people might think,” he said. “Whether it’s doing an easy undergraduate program to get to graduate school, or going to community college to save some money, at the end of the day you need to do what you want to do.”