|Harley, 15, visiting Santa Barbara City College|
I try but I really can't get interested. Here is my philosophy: it all works out the same in the end, you'll be successful if you were going to be and you can't push your child to do what they don't want to. I think a "good school" will get you a first job but not keep you there or get you a better second job.
But there is so much discussion about college/university in the US (we call it "varsity" in New Zealand), I've had to e-evaluate - am I simply a slacker Mum who doesn't want to put in the work to plump out their kids' resume with multiple eye-catching activities, insist they do all Advanced Placement courses and pay for them to fly to Africa to teach Facebook to the local kids?
While we were down in Santa Barbara we took Harley to see Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). It's a "junior" or two year college - costing around $7,000 a year - and once you've completed two years you are guaranteed to get into a good "four year" state college to complete your degree. (In comparison, fees for a mediocre private college that will take most people will cost up to $60,000 a year.)
From what I understand Junior College used to be an option for kids who didn't have much money or who had done loads of drugs at high school. Now it's an option for many students who have A's, Bs and C's and who have done a couple of sports at High School and other activities but still can't get into the "good" colleges.
The tour of SBCC was impressive and included a deep sea diving centre, a new $12 million theatre where Katy Perry graduated and acres of green fields with views of the mountains and marina. This is a place where learning to surf counts as a credit and Ultimate Frisbee is a school sport.
So what do you think, Harley? we said after completing the tour.
"Tour was a bit long" he said "They should get golf carts to take you round."
He did insist on back-tracking to the bookstore (Hooray! What book had he noticed?)...to buy a red SBCC sweatshirt. We then walked down to the wharf for fish and chips at Brophy Bros.
You know, you still need to apply to four year universities too, we said to Harley as we ate our fish and chips.
Harley looked at us as if we were mad. "But I've got the City College sweatshirt now." Point.