Pathways-to-college bill would help students like me

Students at Alliance Susan & Eric Smidt Technology High School, Los Angeles. (School photo)

College application season is upon us. This fall, I will begin my senior year of high school at Alliance Susan & Eric Smidt Technology High School and submit my application to my first-choice school, the California Institute of Technology, to study engineering. I’m excited to make my college dreams come true, after four years of hard work.

But the chance to apply to college and pursue higher education should be available to every high school student, no matter where we come from or how much our parents make.

It’s time for students in Los Angeles County and all over California to have the chance to take the SAT at our own schools for free.

To apply to college is expensive and hard to navigate for too many students and parents. I plan to apply to a handful universities and colleges this year. When you are applying to so many schools, applications take months and fees can add up to hundreds of dollars, sometimes limiting where you will apply.

If my high school had been able to offer the SAT in school, all of my peers and I could have also had the opportunity to access scholarships, fee waivers and free, personalized test practice through Khan Academy. This means that all students in my class could choose to access the tools we need to apply to college and take the next step toward higher education.

There is a bill in the California Legislature that would help make applying to college a reality for more students in California by giving all districts the power to offer the SAT during the school day for free, instead of the mandated state testing. The Pathways to College Act (AB 1951) is supported by school administrators, teachers, and students like me because applying to college should be an opportunity that every student in California has, if they want to take advantage of it.

I took the SAT for the first time in June. Students know junior year is the most important academic year of high school, and additional test preparation can be pricey and inconvenient, especially if you have extracurricular activities on the weekend like I do.

When you take the SAT, you get more than just a score. With college application fee waivers and connections to scholarships, my friends and I can all apply to the schools we care about if we want to – even if we start at community college, or choose to go to a trade school.

It’s time for students in Los Angeles County and all over California to have the chance to take the SAT at our own schools for free. For many of us, having the resources to successfully apply to schools means we’ll be able to go to college and pursue careers we may have never imagined possible.

Ed’s Note: Student Jose Avila is entering the 12th grade at Alliance Susan & Eric Smidt Technology High School in Los Angeles.

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