BARSTOW - Victor Yslas, 18, will graduate from Barstow High School next spring, and isn't quite sure what he'll do next.

He said he plans to attend Barstow Community College but isn't sure what he wants to study and might work at a local military base instead if he can get a good-paying job.

"They tell you that you can't do well without college, but for some people, college isn't for them. They can do fine without it, but for more money, you've got to go to college," he said.

Yslas and nearly 400 local high school students gathered at the Barstow Community College gymnasium on Wednesday to speak with admissions representatives from more than 30 schools about future opportunities.

Fellow Barstow High student, ninth grader Fiola Rodriguez, 14, said she's equally unsure about her plans but knows that she wants to go college. She said she'd like to be a veterinarian but is afraid of "making the wrong decision."

Lefty Olguin, assistant dean of student affairs for BCC, said that the college puts on the annual college fair to show area students which schools are out there.

"Our goal is to put in front of all high school students future opportunities for them and put immediate opportunities for our students," he said.

He said that enabling community college students to transfer onward to a four-year college or university is a priority for the school.

Joshua Johnson, admissions counselor at California State University, San Bernardino, said that such uncertainty is common among college applicants. He said that he sees fewer Barstow area high school students at his school, the closest four-year institution to Barstow, but he thinks the lower numbers are due to distance and not ability.

"It's tough for many students to commute the hour down the hill. Rent is a big expense for students having to live away from home," he said.

He said that some students are unsure of what they want to study or what the field they are interested in is really about.

"For example, there is a big misconception about studying medicine. A lot of people think that to be a doctor, you need to be good with people and willing to help but medical schools aren't looking for that - they want good scientists," he said.

He said that he felt high schools across California and the country aren't preparing students adequately enough with basic math and English skills.

"Once they get to college they have to take a lot of remedial courses," he said.

Barstow High School teacher Anastasia Curran said that the schools are working to better prepare students for higher education. Curran is coordinator of the school's Advancement Via Individual Development program which prepares average performing students for high education.

"We specifically teach students how to take notes, how to study in groups, how to be successful, not only in high school but in college," she said.

Curran said that in order to increase student performance on their SAT scores, the high school will be offering a SAT review course from The Princeton Review. The course will be offered to students at a reduced $100 price but normally costs about $1,000, she said.

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What area high school students do after college
Silver Valley High Join the military 26 percent
Attend Barstow Community College 23 percent
Attend other colleges 28 percent
Work full-time or other 23 percent

Barstow High Join the military 5 percent
Attend Barstow Community College 29 percent
Attend other colleges 24 percent
Work full-time or other 42 percent

Source: Barstow Community College's High School Outreach Program