Students overcoming fiscal hardships find difficulty in graduating


Ana Bello

Junior Maggie Chavez works until 10 p.m. every day in order to earn enough money to help her mom pay the bills, an extra responsibility that affects her academic performance and motivation. Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press
Junior Maggie Chavez works until 10 p.m. every day in order to earn enough money to help her mom pay the bills, an extra responsibility that affects her academic performance and motivation. Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

As part of her day-to-day struggle to receive an education, junior Maggie Chavez follows every full school day with a long work shift that lasts until 10 p.m. so that she can earn enough money to help her mother pay their bills.

Chavez’s two and a half years at Foothill have been challenging, but regardless she has been involved on campus. She has been a member of AVID since freshman year and is the president of the Young Life club. This has been Chavez’s first year working, which has added a significant strain on going to school.

“I get out of work at 10 p.m., and waking up is the hardest thing ever because I have to wake up early and take the bus,” said Chavez.

Chavez feels that she has been tasked with too many things, and that other students living with the same burden have a harder time graduating than the average student does.

“I feel like I can’t do this anymore. I have to give my mom half of my paycheck, and just keep working and struggle in school. It’s all too much,” she said.

Aside from the normal stress of school, several some students are facing challenges such as having to maintain maintaining a job or and take taking extra transportation measures just to arrive to school.

Counselor Debbie Freeman says that she notices several students having to deal with hardships outside of school. She believes that these barriers they are facing to receive an education makes the path to graduation seem so far away.

“Many students that we do not even know about are very courageous and have a difficult family life,” she said.

Freeman said that this difficult family life can consist of several factors that lead to a lower success rate for the students.

“Sometimes there is no support at home and parents are always working, and it’s then difficult for them to focus academically,” she said.

The stress of school for some students and the continuous routine gets to be too much that some students see other options as more fitting.

Junior Alyssa Rockholt said she sees school as pointless because it won’t help her achieve her future goals.

“It’s hard to come here so early just to learn the same things. Having a job would be more beneficial than learning the same thing over and over,” she said.

Chavez feels the pressure of balancing school and work.

“It’s pretty hard having a job and then coming home and knowing you have school, then go to work the next day,” she said.

Freeman knows several of the students who are working because it is the only option.

“A lot are working out of necessity; many are helping parents just to get by,” she said.

For Chavez, her days at Foothill appear hopeless at times when the necessity for her to work wears away at her.

“On Mondays I have to do Adult Ed. to make up credits. I first take a test on my new packet, then than take another,” she said. “I also have to do summer school; there’s always a consequence and I’m paying for it now,” she said.

Sophomore Karla Aguilar also thinks that the stress of balancing schoolwork and home life can be daunting.

“Stress from homework and trying to balance everything with your personal life doesn’t make it seem worth it,” she said.

Aguilar also thinks students who have to find transportation other than their parents have a harder time finding motivation for school.

“Some [students] take two buses, and I take the bus from Ventura to here. It can be stressful and you have to wake up earlier,” she said.

Several of Rockholt’s friends have to rely on the SCAT bus and sometimes cannot find rides home.

“It’s more of a hassle to get home, especially using the city bus,” she said.

These different factors culminate in an increased risk of dropping out of high school, and Chavez as well as other students across the country are concerned with simply graduating from high school.

According to, there are more than one million dropouts a year in America, which is roughly 7,000 every day.

“Trying to do my homework at my house is even more difficult. A few days ago I broke down and wanted to drop out,” Chavez said.

Chavez is not alone; several students facing hardships find the prospects of graduating slim. Maintaining a job, dealing with stress at home and during school, along with simply getting to school every morning gives the price of education a whole new value.

“A lot of students are carrying their invisible backpack. They have a lot on their shoulders that they are not even revealing,” Freeman said.

Freeman created a group catered towards girls who are facing struggle inside and outside of school. The group serves as a support system reminding students they are not alone.

“The girls group meets on Thursdays and is a place for students to vent to others in the same boat. There needs to be a place that’s confidential,” she said. 

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