Area students worried about college

By Vickie Snow

Many area high school seniors are worrying about paying for college next year.

Guidance counselors at DeKalb Senior High School and Sycamore High School are spending much of their time with students who are checking into possible sources of financial aid.

“About 60 percent of the students are talking about going onto college,” said Kathy Dombeck, a guidance counselor at DeKalb Senior High School.

“Students are looking for ways to subsidize” money going toward future college expenses, Dombeck said.

“A lot of students are putting money in themselves,” she said. Many high school students work part-time to add to money provided by their parents and financial aid, she said.

At least 85 percent of the seniors at Sycamore High School hold part-time jobs, said Guidance Counselor Don Clayberg.

Lori Smith, a senior at Sycamore, said she works part-time at a childcare center to save for college. She said most of the expenses will be taken care of by her parents and possibly a Stanford Loan that she applied for.

“I’m definitely worried about paying for college,” Smith said. She applied to Illinois State University in Normal and is waiting to hear if the college will give her any help.

Smith also plans to apply to NIU. Although she will enter college as an undecided major, she decided against attending Kishwaukee Community College because she does not want to transfer.

“A vast majority goes to Kishwaukee,” he said. Additionally, about 99 percent of the Sycamore students enroll in at least one course at Kishwaukee sometime during their four years in college, Clayberg said.

About 10 to 20 percent of Sycamore’s 200-member graduating class enroll at NIU, Clayberg said.

He said he contacts all seniors who applied to college and makes sure they have received financial aid forms by January.

Follow-up studies at Sycamore show that 40 percent of the seniors are admitted to a four-year college, Clayberg said. And 26 percent attend other institutions like junior colleges or specialty schools, he said.

Sycamore students receive an abundance of “local input” for financial aid, Clayberg said. Through owning stock in Duplex Paper Products, the high school offers aid to students. Ideal Industries also offers a large scholarship program, he said.

Many DeKalb High School students receive aid from their parents’ employers, Dombeck said. In September, the school held a financial aid night for students and parents to speak with representatives from NIU and Kishwaukee.