High school students choose community college during troubling times


Photo courtesy of Monse Zamora. Zamora is a student at College of the Desert who chose to stay close to home during the pandemic after her acceptance to many California schools.

High school seniors are selecting community colleges that are closer to home as their next educational venture after high school during these pandemic uncertainties.

High school senior David Zedekiah Perez says that before the pandemic, he felt more comfortable leaving home. “The pandemic and my family’s health getting worse these past few months has really put me off.” Perez was admitted to many California State Universities and UC schools but opted to enroll at College of the Desert for the fall.

“Given the current circumstances, my parent’s health and money, I feel like it would be in my best interest to go to COD and transfer to a university,” Perez adds. Perez, who enrolled at COD his junior year of high school for a dual enrollment course, and took general education classes in the summer, believes that community college is the way to go. He believes COD is a good school with great options. Perez has already taken courses in film and music theory and enjoys the vast options available to undergraduate students. And he is not alone.

Senior Monserrath Zamora, who was admitted to several colleges outside the Coachella Valley, plans to take care of her undergraduate work at College of the Desert then transfer to a four-year university. Zamora wants to reassure her parents that she will be safe while also receiving her college education.

“Since I can’t drive, I feel kinda nervous about this whole thing [the pandemic], but excited now that I’m forced to go to COD,” Zamora said.

Zamora initially wanted to leave home to explore other opportunities but had a change of heart when she took some summer courses at the college. “I really liked Toni’s class,” Zamora said. Zamora took the Intro. to Radio Production class taught by radio instructor Toni Bakal. Students in the class learned about radio and podcasting and how to create content for KCOD, the college’s student radio station. Zamora has plans to continue taking courses in film and radio production.

Photo courtesy of David Z. Perez. Perez is a College of the Desert student who decided to stay close to home and attend COD during the pandemic.

High schools across the Coachella Valley emphasize the many benefits of community colleges. High school counselor Joshua Chao said, “Programs such as EDGE and FAFSA are the main emphasis for our workshops. Students need to be informed of all the options they have, so we have partnered with COD.”

One of those partnerships is dual enrollment agreements. Students in high school can enroll in College of the Desert classes while in high school. These courses count towards their college education and are free to high school students.

Both Zamora and Perez took film production as juniors. Because they are enrolled in a California Partnership Academy that emphasizes arts, media and entertainment, they were introduced to the idea of taking college courses in high school.

“I didn’t expect college to be literally around the corner already. It’s pretty scary to think about,” Zamora said. Taking college classes in high school, however, is not challenging. Both Zamora and Perez have taken various AP and honors courses beforehand.

“Our high school provided our books, and it was free,” Perez said. This factor encouraged him to look at the other courses COD offers.  Both students decided to enroll in the college their junior year and took Film 002A, film production. They loved it and earned A’s.

The pandemic may have encouraged these seniors to decline their CSU and UC acceptance letters and enroll in COD, but they are hopeful and looking forward to the experience. “I know some of the programs and classes, so I’m happy with my decision. I feel more comfortable staying home right now,” said Perez.