The Student News Site of Agua Fria High School


The Student News Site of Agua Fria High School


The Student News Site of Agua Fria High School


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Photo credit: Evianna Wright
Evianna Wright
Opinion Columnist

Evianna Wright is a 16 year old girl who was born on Feb 26, 2006. She is a sophomore in Agua Fria, and this is her second semester in Journalism.  Evianna enjoys writing things down and finds it calming...

Photo credit: Grads Photography
Darryl Taylor
Opinion Columnist

Darryl Alexander Taylor is one of the most athletic and smart people in Journalism that most people can relate to. He originally joined Journalism as another writing class like English because he loves...

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By: Rian Cameron
OwlFeed Opinion Editor 


Although subtle, the smell hits you first. It is unique and intoxicating. A scent foreign to you, yet somehow you know it will follow you in years to come, racking you with nostalgia out of the blue. The walls stretch into the horizon and meet in an artistic sequence of pointed, castle-like spears and contrasting smooth edges. You fill your lungs with the invigorating air once more and take your first steps into the next imperative phase of your life: college. 

Where exactly does this narrative place you in your mind?

Arizona State University? University of Arizona? Northern Arizona University? Maybe Grand Canyon University?

These are precisely the few institutions I might have had in mind two years ago, but in my junior year I realized something that would change the way I perceived every waking moment of my high school career:

I can go anywhere. And so can you.

There is no denying it. College is approaching, and fast. No one is safe from the impending epidemic of recruitment emails from colleges they’ve never heard of or have never intended on attending. Instead, we weigh the few options that are constantly emphasized by our teachers, parents, and mentors: in-state universities and community colleges. 

What has become difficult to realize as a student at a public school in Arizona is that if you are dedicated, high achieving, and involved, then you are just as qualified to attend big name schools like Harvard, Emory, and University of Chicago as anybody else in their hoards of applicants.

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Ivy League and selective colleges are not easy to gain admission into, but they are certainly not unattainable. 

Obviously, to get into selective schools, your GPA and standardized testing scores do typically have to be somewhat above average, but because the large majority of applicants already possess academic rigor and ability in their applications, standout qualities increase your individual appeal.  

Mrs. Miller, the founder of the Be a Leader Club at Agua Fria, emphasizes colleges’ interest in what she calls the “uniqueness factor.” From her experience, selective colleges are looking for students who have that baseline of academic achievement but aside from that “are extremely driven and ambitious on their own and [are] passionate about something,” Mrs. Miller said. “It doesn’t matter what they’re passionate about, they just have to have something they’re engaged and invested in outside of just academics.” 

Essentially, if you have a strong interest, passion, or goal, pursue it. It proves that you are more than a bundle of scores and grades and numbers. 

Take Mr. Boothman for example. Mr. Boothman was an Arizona resident who gained admission into Northwestern University, whose admission rate currently stands at a mere 11%. 

According to Mr. Boothman, colleges are looking for more than just a strong GPA and test scores. They want people with self-discipline who are “involved, showing that [they’re] dedicated to a variety of things,” he said. 

Getting into one of these universities sounds like a lot of work. Why put all that effort in when you can get into NAU with a full-tuition scholarship as you are? 

Going out of state, even if not to a selective college, potentially makes the experience of going off to school more enriching. You gain the opportunity to meet new people from diverse backgrounds and explore a new environment. 

 It is a “first taste of independence and it’s really where I think people start becoming more socially and politically aware,” Mr. Boothman said. “It’s a time when you really start to figure out your own identity.”

When considering out of state options, high school students become overwhelmed by the daunting costs. However, financial aid is granted generously, at least in more selective schools. For instance, Northwestern has implemented a new no-loan policy to lessen the financial burden on their incoming students. 

Mrs. Miller also noted that there are options to consider if you want an experience outside of Arizona without needing to qualify for big-name schools. The Western Undergraduate Exchange allows Arizona residents to attend participating universities in 15 different western states and pay in-state tuition.

There is value to any kind of college experience whether you attend Stanford, ASU or EMCC. The point is that you can go anywhere that you want. Everyone has individual needs and desires when it comes to their education and nothing should obstruct any of us from fulfilling them. 

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