From the perspective of a student….

The following is an article from Hami Humanities “Weltanschauung” (Worldview in German).

Ci Vediamo in Italia (See you in Italy)

As many of us know, either from rumors, experience, or current placement, 11th grade in the Humanities Magnet is a difficult year. Of course the expectations of Junior year add to that stress, but sleepless nights and numerous cups of coffee a day prove those forewarnings true. And what’s the reason for the stressful period? It all boils down to College. I’d like to think that answer is only a generalization and that some of us chose our classes in order to (do I dare say) learn? And as much as I reasoned against it, and claimed to choose my class solely based on interest, the bottom line of why we took (or were forced to take) those classes comes down to looking good for college.

To give myself a break from this “life after high school” anxiety, I disappeared to Europe for two months. Not once did college applications, SAT scores, and brand name universities cross my mind. Instead, I explored the diverse life-styles of Europeans. Across 5 countries I lived as 5 different people leaving my high school life behind me. I adopted the lifestyles of restless Isle of Man young adults, cultured Parisian students, Austria settling expatriates, Swiss workaholics, and Italian studying International students.

And through all these experiences, I find myself most comfortable with Italy. And it’s not necessarily because of my Italian heritage, but because of the Italian way of life. But before you stereotype the Italian as a pasta-eating Mafioso, the true Italian, the one left out in movies, works for only a few hours in the morning and the evening and spends the rest of the time relaxing and enjoying life through numerous social gatherings, including food festivals and music concerts.
Before my visit, I found it strange that most Italians don’t choose to travel or move outside of the country, and that those who have left are now moving back, but after living there for 6 weeks, I can see why. During my time there, I had no interest in the American Lifestyle, and I still don’t. In Italy they have a saying that explains perfectly what I feel: “In America you live to work, but in Italy you work to live.” No one needs luxury in their lives and these Italians, who don’t have very much, are a million times happier than anyone I know here in the States.

Additionally, the opportunity to study with students from all over the world, at all ages, was another adopted lifestyle all on its own. For 5 weeks I lived in San Giovanni Valdarno, a small Tuscan town where the only foreigners were students attending the small language school and a group of German students studying geography at the local university. At it’s zenith, our school had 18 students split between 3 classes and the only other American was my 30 year old roommate, Carrie, from Tennessee, which depending on our culture difference, could almost be an entirely separate country.

But besides our many surface differences, you’d be surprised by the similarities you do find between these international people. I’ve made best friends with people who, before they met me, thought Los Angeles was a completely different world only in American movies and no one besides movie stars lived here. And the best part of these friends is that we all have a common interest of studying the Italian language and culture. Together we adopted the Italian life style of having morning espressos before class, sleeping away the hottest part of the day, and sitting with Gianni, the pizzeria owner downstairs, while he plays and sings Italian songs with his guitar.

So in short, this summer gave me a taste of the other options out in life that most of us don’t learn about from our Fiske College Guides. We spend all of our Junior year stressing ourselves thin in order to get into a top school, but in 11th grade most of us don’t know what we want. I recommend that everyone try to find out who they are before they sign up for something they might not even want.

Rosa is a fabulous grade 12 student in the Humanities Magnet. The article was reprinted with permission. She can be contacted through email at


Career Programs at Community Colleges

Two weeks ago I wrote you about the perils of “Career Programs on Television Commercials”. As a follow up, I make the case for pursuing career programs at community colleges.

Cost vs. Earning: Unlike “for-profit” schools, community colleges offer low tuition rates. California residents currently pay only $26 per unit. On average, full time students will pay approximately $300 per semester plus the cost of textbooks.

I agree with you if that sounds like a substantial sum of money…and the community colleges think so too. In response, all community colleges offer qualifying students fee waivers, grants, and other supplemental forms of financial assistance. Please visit the “FINANCIAL AID INFO” for details.

Fee Waivers: Qualifying students of low-income backgrounds qualify to have tuition waived; meaning that you do not pay for the cost of classes. A fee waiver covers an entire academic year and is renewable. You do not need to pay this back.

CAL & PELL Grants: Qualifying students that complete the FAFSA may receive grants (free money) to help you pay for your living & travel expenses, textbooks, etc. while in school. Maximum eligibility at a community college is approximately $7,500 dollars per academic year.

“Non-profit” education: Unlike the “for-profit” vocational schools in television commercials, community colleges do not operate to make a profit. Community college are mostly funded by taxpayer dollars; which explains why tuition is so low. Earnings from tuition are used to offset educational costs and surpluses are reinvested into the college.

Job Placement? No reputable institution will guarantee you a job. What community colleges can guarantee you is you will have access to career/job centers that will assist you in developing a resume, teach you how to look for jobs, and prepare you for interviews. As soon as you select a community college, inquire about their career counseling services.

Recognition: All community colleges offer classes and programs that lead to career and vocational certificates/degrees. To name a few, these programs can include Aviation Maintenance, construction, cosmetology, culinary arts, dental hygiene, design, electrical engineering, graphic arts, nursing, paralegal studies, etc. etc. etc. These programs have broad oversight by state and federal regulators and governing bodies that accredit California’s prestigious universities.

To view vocational certificates listings for local community colleges, please visit the links below:

Los Angeles Community College District
West Los Angeles College
Santa Monica College
El Camino College

Note: This blog above only covers career/vocational certificates. Please visit this blog soon for a review of Associate Degree (A.A./A.S.) and community college transfer processes.

Angel Viramontes
Student Recruiter
West Los Angeles College