My daughter has been invited to apply for a full-ride scholarship to any in-state college, but she says she would rather be homeless and $300,000 in debt than go to college in Colorado. Do all local kids want to get out of Durango after high school, or just mine? – Concerned Parent
Durango kids have issues.
They live in the recreation capital of the world. But all you hear is “there’s nothing to do around here.”
Which is kind of true.
Just look around, and you’ll see that fun is achieved only by owning expensive brand-name outdoor gear. Thus the Durango Lifestyle limited to older people with money.
Not that kids aspire to live the Durango Lifestyle.
Still, it’s no wonder 17-year-olds yearn to leave this oppressive, stifling, uppity town with its overcrowded roof racks, expensive restaurants and social-beverage establishments that are off-limits for another four years.
Thing is, Durango kids who can’t wait to leave this miserable hell hole will soon devote most of their adult years to trying to get back to the bubble. Call it the Durango Vortex.
After being in the big bad Real World, they soon discover the wisdom in that old bumper sticker: “Durango. Because every place else just sucks.”
Perhaps the Durango Area Association of Realtors could print up a couple thousand of these to hand out at the Parade of Homes. But that’s another issue.
Anyway, are Durango grads skedaddling across the border?
Action Line looked at college enrollment statistics from the Colorado Department of Higher Education for 2010 through 2015, the most current data available.
In 2010, about 19.4 percent of Durango High School students went to an out-of-state college or university. In 2015, the figure was 21.9 percent, which is an increase but no big shakes.
But what jumped out was the number of DHS kids not heading to higher education.
Again, looking at CDHE numbers, post-secondary enrollment for DHS (in and out-of-state combined) was 68.5 percent in 2010. It has declined over the years and now stands at 60.1 percent, a drop of more than 12 percent.
Could it be that college-prep Animas High School (which isn’t in the CDHE data set) poached many of Durango’s college-bound students?
According to the AHS website, 71 percent of its graduating seniors last year attended college. So it’s a factor.
Meanwhile, our good friend Julie Popp, spokeswoman for School District 9-R, checked with the folks at Durango High about plans for the Class of 2018. She reports:
Of the 247 DHS seniors, about 70 (28.3 percent) plan on leaving the state for a post-secondary degree.Eighty kids (32.4 percent) plan on attending a Colorado college or university. Of those, 35 intend to remain in the Four Corners and 11 have their eyes on Fort Lewis College.Meanwhile, 28 (11.3 percent) are still mulling matriculation options.And finally, three upcoming graduates plan on serving our great country in the military.So that brings us to the debt thing.
The good news is that Colorado ranks 39th among all states for the number of graduates with student loans.
The bad news is that being 39th means 56 percent of graduates are on the hook for an average balance of $25,840.
If your daughter has her mind made up on self-inflicted tuition-induced penury, that’s her burden. Just don’t make it yours. Time for tough love.
Never co-sign on any loan for any reason, convert her bedroom into a breakfast nook and fill the basement with cement to dissuade your soon-to-be boomerang child.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you get swept up into a bulb frenzy at Action Line’s annual and obnoxious gardening lecture from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the Durango Public Library, followed by the Durango Botanical Society’s fall bulb sale.