Living in the Bay Area, many are used to the high costs of rent and expensive homes, especially in the Tri-Valley. According to Home Value Index on Zillow.com, the median cost of homes in Pleasanton sits at $1.12M, while Dublin and Livermore are at about $925K and $800K respectively.
Median rent for the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Metro area is $3,300, which is a lot compared to the national average of $1,500 a month, according to Zillow. Yet cities like Dublin and Pleasanton have a median rent of $3,375. With prices like those just for places to sleep, excluding any other cost of living expenses, having a lot of money is a must in order to live here comfortably. Many residents in places such as Pleasanton are used to having disposable income and using it on things like yearly vacations, nice cars, playing organized sports year round and going to four-year universities straight out of high school. However, the children of the city cannot reap the benefits of such things without the success of their parents.
Many high schoolers in the Tri-Valley area go to LPC and for various reasons. Two of LPC’s most appealing aspects are the low cost of tuition and its high transfer rate. Despite this, some people frown upon the school because it isn’t a four-year-institution and coined a term for the school, “Lost Potential.” The true source of the demeaning nickname will never be clear, but it most certainly derived from the surrounding communities.
It would be unfair to label everyone with a great deal of wealth as entitled, elitist or snobby. Yet, with gated communities dotted around the Tri-Valley and a population of 360,000, this generalization is easy to make. Due to Pleasanton’s affluent history and being the closest wealthy hub to LPC, eight miles West, the origin of “Lost Potential” reasonably could have come from there. Pleasanton has been known for having some grandiose residents who fulfill that idea of a big house, a nice car and getting into a prestigious four-year university.
Amador Valley and Foothill High School are the two largest high schools in Pleasanton. Both have over 2,000 students and offer many different clubs, sports and performing arts for students to participate in. Both have been criticized for having too intense of a homework load in order to force students into a sink or float situation, so that they prevail on standardized tests, yet it works consistently. They get the results they desire and have a high amount of graduating students enroll in college.
There is a third high school named Village, a continuation school which doesn’t get nearly the same praise as the other two schools. Due to its small attendance of about 100 students, the school doesn’t have many extracurricular activities, which results in a lack of school spirit that the other two schools have an abundance of. Some reasons for students attending Village include credit recovery, expulsion from other schools, struggles with learning and needing a different crowd.
It’s easy to ostracize the students of Village, no matter the reason for their enrollment, just because they are the minority group of students in Pleasanton that do go there. Similarly, it’s easy to ostracize LPC students because they’re the minority of students in the area that don’t go to a four-year school.
Another reason for Village’s bad reputation is due to the fact that Amador and Foothill consistently have outstanding scores on state standardized assessment tests, while Village underachieves on those tests. Amador and Foothill also have high percentages of their student body enrolled in Advanced Placement classes. For example, Amador had 1,061 students take AP exams in 2018 and 48.7% of those students scored a 5. That means you have about one-fifth of the entire school with a perfect score on their AP exams.
In high schools, many decide it’s easy to fit in with popular opinions and since many Pleasanton students come from affluent families, they are in a way a reflection of their parents. Particularly with how they react to their economic or educational status in regards to others. So as a result of having many students labeled as “more academically advanced” and there being a good chance many of those very same students coming from affluent families, you have a lot of adolescents who think of themselves as superior to those who aren’t on their academic and financial level. The overlap of students who are labeled “more academically advanced” and who are also from affluent families, is far greater than the amount of students who are economically disadvantaged.
Many students who are in AP or Honors classes, constantly try to one-up their peers and it becomes a competition of who has the most homework, who has the best test scores and who has the better GPA. Students with lower GPA’s start to feel negatively about themselves as they overhear conversations of students with 4.0 GPA’s slamming someone for having a 3.2 GPA.
The effects of this kind of toxic behavior really adds up in senior year of high school, as people prepare for college and figure out where they want to apply and debate where they should attend. Many students get accepted to multiple great schools, but what they don’t always realize is their privilege in just having that opportunity to make a decision between colleges. Not everyone has the grades to get accepted into a four-year program, but also, not everyone who gets accepted to these colleges has the funds to actually attend them.
According to Amador Valley’s School Profile Report for the Class of 2018, 91% of those students enrolled in a college, with 69% of them enrolling in a 4-year institution right off the bat. Foothill’s School Profile Report for the Class of 2019, saw 95% of their students enrolled in college, with 68% going straight to a 4-year. This goes to show that the norm for Pleasanton families is to enroll their student in a four-year institution, and also shows that most families in the city can actually afford to.
Most people that attend a 4-year college have a sense of great relief and pride in that, which they should. However, that means those who aren’t going away for college immediately after high school, have to watch most of the people they’ve spent their entire lives growing up with, disappear into new environments. Meanwhile, nothing really changes for themselves. Staying at home with your parents and with less friends to see on a daily basis, can make those who go to a community college feel left out, feel less of themselves, or feel as if they are at the bottom of some educational hierarchy.
Similarly to Village High School, Las Positas College lacks an aspect of school spirit when compared to many four-year colleges. So not only are LPC students possibly starting to feel negative about their college experience compared to that of their friends who are away at school, but they are placed in a school where many go to focus on their personal growth and not partake in dorm parties, rally behind a logo or a football team.
With this being the case for some students and considering the makeup of the surrounding immediate communities to LPC, it’s easy to understand how and why the term “Lost Potential” applies. For years students had been comparing themselves to others who may have had a better financial background or who maybe even succeeded more academically, then stay put while their peers get to have that “going away to college experience” and they don’t, but spend the next two years trying to catch up to them, transfer and ultimately get that four-year college experience.
This two year period can be a really trying time for students at community colleges and make them feel as if they have lost their potential or confidence in their own ability to succeed. Many young adults may sit in their first class and for the first time ever, not everyone there is within a year apart in age. Once they begin to assimilate to the school, they’ll have encountered and talked to more students, finding that some people started LPC and then took a year or so off before returning when they are in their 20s, or that they didn’t take off any time but have been at the campus for over two years and still haven’t transferred. Hearing that you can still be at a community college more than two years after high school sounds like a nightmare to many 18 year olds, as they just want to be done with school and begin their adult lives with a career.
Even though it may not be a four-year institution, it is still a college. Not everyone comes to LPC as an 18 year old or with the goal of obtaining an Associates Degree and transferring. According to the California Community Colleges Student Success Scorecard, in the 2016-2017 school year, 31.7% of students were 20 years old or younger, 34.4% were 20 to 24 years old, 22.6% were 25 to 39 years old and 11.3% were 40 years old or older. LPC also offers an opportunity for local high schoolers to take courses on campus that go towards their high school diploma, as well as a head start on units taken at LPC for their future college degree, through the Middle College program.
Students at LPC can obtain any of 24 Associate Degrees, 17 Transfer Associate Degrees and enroll in any of 44 Certificate Programs. LPC also offers very affordable classes, at $46 a unit for California residents and $238 a unit for non-residents and international students.
Attending Las Positas College prior to transferring to a 4-year university can save someone literally thousands of dollars. LPC is designed to be a college for those who seek an associates degree or other certifications, but if they want to expand their learning or further their education and get a bachelors or higher, then the school is a great tool to get students to where they need to be.
College is what you make of it and LPC students shouldn’t let any negative opinions from select locals discourage them in their pursuit for an enriched life.
Taylour Sparkman is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him @T_Sparkman_330.