San Joaquin Valley College – A student’s perspective

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College Spotlight

by Chris Carroll

San Jaoquin

As Sara Vander Weide looked ahead toward the second half of her senior year of high school at Central Valley Christian in Visalia, Calif., she decided that it was time to get serious about what she was going to do after graduation. Sara had a hunch that she wanted to study something related to psychology or healthcare, but the more she looked at traditional universities in her area, such as Fresno State and Fresno Pacific, the more daunting it seemed to be in school for four more years.

“I knew I wanted to go to college, but four years seemed way too long,” she said. “I couldn’t swallow the thought of that many more years in a classroom.”

Sara began to look around at some of the two-year programs in her area. One junior college had a medical administration program that would allow her to work in a psychologist’s office one day, but the course of study was not very specific and seemed to be cluttered with general education classes that repeated what she was already learning in high school.

Another nearby junior college seemed to have a slightly more focused curriculum, but it had one major drawback completely unrelated to the two-year program of study that Sara was interested in: a lot of her high school classmates were planning to enroll there. While that may seem like a petty complaint, Sara explained its importance by saying, “Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the 60 people in my graduating class. The problem is that I had been going to the same school with pretty much the same 60 people since kindergarten.”

Needless to say, change was a priority.

One day while driving to her dad’s workplace, Sara noticed San Joaquin Valley College. She said that she passed the school every time she went to her dad’s job, but hadn’t really taken note of it. On her way home from visiting her dad that day, she popped into San Joaquin Valley College to inquire about their Health Care Administration program.

Sara was told that San Joaquin Valley College was founded in 1977 to provide quality education and real-world training to a diverse student population. As she toured the Visalia campus (she was quick to point out that it was just one of nine campuses, including an online program), Sara was awed by the amount of hands-on training that takes place on a daily basis.

“I always loved the classes in high school where I got to learn something and then practice it, and SJVC is like that every day,” she said. Finding out that their Associate degree in Health Care Administration only takes 18 months to complete made San Joaquin Valley College the perfect fit for Sara.

Sara graduated from high school in May of 2007 and enrolled in San Joaquin in July. Midway through her second month of classes, Sara says she couldn’t be happier.

“I really like how different each one of my classmates are,” she said. “Some are older, some are younger, and they come from all sorts of backgrounds, but in the end we all learn so much from each other, and so much from the instructors. Also, while my friends are enjoying their first summer of college, I will begin my new career. What’s not to love about that?”

To find out more about San Joaquin Valley College, visit