“It was a pretty hard decision to make, honestly,” says Myles Banks as he curls his fingers around the steering wheel of his ‘64 Volkswagen Beetle, headed north on I-5 towards Valencia. “Other than gas, the drive isn’t that bad, depending when you leave.”
Banks, 24, is a nursing student who’s been at COC since 2013 and makes the 24-mile-drive three times a week all the way from Burbank, while also working the graveyard shift at Harbor Freight in North Hollywood.
While Glendale Community College, Pasadena Community College, Los Angeles Valley College and Pierce College are all closer to home, COC, according to Banks, leaves them in the dust, and he’s not alone. Approximately one-third of COC’s students are from outside of Santa Clarita according to COC’s Public Information Officer Eric Harnish.
“I heard amazing things about the nursing program, and to be honest, COC’s campus is way nicer than all the closer schools,” Banks says. “I think people from the SCV take COC for granted; they have no idea how nice they have it. To them, COC is just for the people who don’t get into big schools and they don’t appreciate it for how nice of a school it is.”
Because 60 percent of students from Santa Clarita area high schools do end up going to COC within two years of graduating high school according to Harnish, it’s easy to see why familiarity breeds contempt with the locals.
But Banks’ most difficult decision wasn’t which school to choose, it was whether to attend at all.
“At first, I didn’t even know if I wanted to go to college, was a pretty bad student and I had no idea what I wanted to do out of high school. And after some arguing with my parents we decided that going to COC was the best option for me,” says Banks.
Sometimes the reasons people come to COC from so far away is simpler than expected.
“I know for me, and a lot of kids from the Antelope Valley, go to COC just to get out of the AV, just to get a change of scenery,” said COC MEA student Tanner Nava from Palmdale.
For some, the thing that attracts them to College of the Canyons from great distances, is simply the notariety it gets.
“I think reputation plays a large part in it and word of mouth. When you look at what goes into building that reputation, the facilities, the instruction, and the quality of the faculty, another key part of it is outcomes; getting you where you want to be when you leave College of the Canyons.” said Harnish.
And what a reputation College of the Canyons has built. COC ranks 1st out of Los Angeles County’s 21 community colleges in percentage of students who transfer to a four-year university.Also 80.7 percent of COC’s of college-prepared students complete a degree or certificate, or are prepared to transfer to a four-year university, the 2nd highest rate in California according to information from College of the Canyons annual report from 2017.
To a large number of students coming out of high school, choosing a college is like deciding which freeway to take on the way to your destination. Sometimes the road marked out on the map may look like its a farther distance but in the end it ends up being the right decision.
So as Myles Banks drives off of I-5 onto Valencia Blvd, towards the campus he’s proud to call his school, he knows that this is just one stop on the road to his goals.