( up to 3,000 words) have 1,566 need help expanding + better title
The focus is on the benefits of choosing community college vs. traditional 4 year institutes. The objective was supposed to be debunking the belief that community colleges are for losers. A hefty objective yes, but as I am one of those who chose this route I believed I could succeed with this. Unfortunately, the story itself has been a struggle. The parts have come to me in bits and pieces and that is to say, frustrating.
I am looking for advice and suggestions on expanding this piece another 1,400 words or so plus a better title. Once I've reached this, I will then revisit the story for editing / revisions. In the end, I had hoped to use it for Assignment 9 with Breaking Into Print with Institute for Writers. After, it would be one of the pieces in my anthology "The Long Ridge".
Thanks in advance.
Debbie had her dreams, her goals. In the summer before her senior year, she started her search for the ideal college. Each time she found one; she got a copy of the college catalog and left it on the kitchen table.
Her Dad left notes inside as page markers, highlighting the cost of tuition in yellow. Sometimes he added a red circle. He was like that; not much for words, but when he spoke, it was short and pointed. With Debbie's college search, it was the same note each time. It costs too much.
Debbie felt like it had become a game between them. That is until the day we walked into the house and found a new catalog on the counter. Debbie flipped through the pages of offerings from Centre City College, the local community school. Her Dad had marked the page on tuition with a note. I know you have big dreams but this is what we can afford. Love Dad.
Debbie picked up a marker and wrote on the cover of the catalog loser school, and then she balled up the letter and tossed it across the room. She stormed through the house and up the stairs. A loud bang smacked the air followed by a scream.
Leaning against the counter, I picked up the catalog and looked through it. Just then, the back door opened and Mr. Jacobs wandered in. I glanced up as he set his lunch box on the counter. "Hey Mister J."
"Where's Debbie?" He asked.
"In her room," I said.
He turned on the water faucet to wash the grime from his hands. Mechanics work was dirty like that. His blue button down shirt was a canvas of spatters from grease and oil and who knew what else. He nodded toward the catalog. "So, what do you think?"
"The tuition sounds good." With my arms folded over it, I held the catalog to my chest to hide the cover. "I might check it out myself."
"I believe in being thrifty," He said. "It's good to save a few bucks."
"I hear you," I said. "Debbie's going to need some convincing though."
"You might just be the one to convince her." He smiled and winked as he dried his hands.
With his permission, I marched upstairs, knocking on the door to Debbie's room before cracking it open. She sat on the bed, propped up against the headboard with a stuffed animal in her arms crushed against her chest.
"Do you want to talk?" I stepped into the room, sitting on the edge of the bed
"It's not fair," Debbie said. "Why shouldn't I be able to go to the college I want? Everyone I know is."
"Are you sure about that?" I dropped the catalog onto the bed then pulled my legs up. "The guys are going here. You're the only one of us looking at private schools."
"They have the program I want." Debbie said. "Isn't the Academy a private school? Isn't that where you're going?"
"It's a military school and it's a family thing but I'm not sure it's what I want."
Debbie smirked and twitched her shoulder. It was her way of shrugging things off that didn't matter to her. "I blame Mom, you know." She looked to the ceiling, watching the mobile of the solar system turn. "If she hadn't left this wouldn't be happening."
I had to sigh, this was not going to be easy. "Yeah, I know."
"I called her about this and she said it wasn't her problem?" Debbie sat forward with a huff. She was fighting them but I could see the tears swelling in her eyes. When she pouted like this, those puppy dog brown eyes of hers could get to most people. "Who does she think she is? She divorces Dad and that gives her a pass from parenting?"
"I think she took the same course as my mom," I said. "Love them and leave them with the kids."
Debbie wagged her head. "Oh jeez Jen, I'm sorry."
"It's okay." I shrugged it off. Divorce wasn't easy on kids at any age. While mine had left a long time ago, Debbie's wounds were fresh, raw. I got up from the bed and picked up the catalog. "Now c'mon, let's at least check out this school before crossing it off."
"No, that's okay, I'm not interested." She slumped back, her eyes looking anywhere but at me.
That's when I knew I had her. She needed pushing and I was willing to do it, despite not having a plan. I relied on my cadet training, resolving to treat her like some green back kid who'd just entered a military high school. "I'm not giving you a choice. Get your shoes on, we're going."
I slapped the catalog against her foot gaining her attention. "Go to the seminar with me and if you don't like, I won't bring it up again."
"You promise?" Debbie asked.
"I swear," I promised.
The city bus left us off by the parking lot near the administration building. We made their way through the crowds touring the campus. In the cafeteria, I saw the guys seated at a large round table. One of them smiled and moved to make room while the others pulled chair from nearby table. David sat beside Debbie, setting his arm on the back of her chair.
"I thought you were going to State?" She asked.
"That's still the plan," he said. "Mom asked me to check out the core classes here to transfer."
"You can do that?" She asked.
"Oh yeah," Ryan said. "And it's half the cost."
It was a funny moment, not that Debbie was clueless or stupid, she just didn't know. It's not surprising though. The stigma against community colleges keeps people from discovering this gem of education. I was just as guilty until I looked at the catalog.
A microphone squealed, the host gained our attention and the seminar began. Using a projector screen, Matt, the host, introduced the campus and the benefits of attending a community college. When he shared the list of traditional colleges, they had transfer agreements with Debbie's eyes lit up. Two of the schools were on her list.
Once Matt ended his presentation, he wandered around the cafeteria stopping at various tables to answer questions. David waved him over to our table.
"Hey guys, how're you doing?" Matt smiled and his eyebrows went up. "Do you have any questions? Some I can answer but if I can't I can help you find the person who can?"
"Could you explain to my girl how the credit transfer works?" David asked.
"Yeah, sure, absolutely," Matt pulled up a chair to sit by them. "Do you know what school you want and major?"
Debbie showed him her list with the two names circled. "I know they're private and expensive... It's the major that's important."
"Right, I hear you," Matt said. "We can certainly help you with your core classes."
"How does it work?" Ryan asked. "Will any class transfer?"
"No, not every class," Matt opened his copy of the college catalog and flipped to the back section of the course listing. "Developmental courses don't transfer. These are numbered anywhere below 100. Certain courses over 100 do transfer."
"When in doubt, go with 101." David said.
"That's a good way to start." Matt laughed.
"What courses, specifically?" Debbie asked.
This was as good sign. Debbie asking questions meant she was interested. Now, we just had to hook her like a fish to bait. Something told me that Matt had it under control. After all, it was his job to help students.
"That's an easy one," Matt placed his catalog on the table. "Everyone planning to transfer takes English Composition 1. Some students take Intro to Sociology or Biology; others take Art or Music Appreciation. It all depends on your major."
"The bonus is that you can stay at home." David set his head to rest on her shoulder. "Six of us are doing this, so why not?"
"No peer pressure here, right?" Ryan asked.
"Nothing wrong with that," Matt slapped his hands together and shifted to face Debbie. "Listen, whatever you decide we're here to help make this easy for you. If you'd like I get you in with an advisor."
Under the table, Debbie reached out and gripped my hand. She took a deep breath and met my eyes with a nod. "I need to think about it."
"All right ladies, then we have a bus to catch." Ryan said.
"Take my card," Matt said. He handed one to each of us. "Give me a call or e-mail me if you have any questions."
"Thanks," I claimed the catalog Matt left behind and followed Debbie. It was almost funny to see the guys lagging behind.
"You know, David does have a point." I nudged her with my shoulder
"He does?" She asked.
"Six of our friends are coming here and you two did just start dating."
"Oh, for crying out loud," She said. She rolled her eyes again and feigned sarcasm but there was no hiding the blush in her cheeks. "You're a terrible friend."
"As your best friend it's my job to point out the obvious." I slipped my arm through hers as we pushed out the double doors near the administration offices.