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Middle-Class Families Increasingly Look to Community Colleges

When top students from the sun-dappled suburbs that surround Pasadena, Calif., graduate from high school, they are expected to go to colleges that are prestigious, pricey and often far away. Last year, seniors from La Cañada High School, one of the highest rated in the state, fanned across the country to M.I.T., the University of Michigan and Yale.

But 18-year-old Annie Shahverdian, the daughter of a commercial real estate agent and a nursing administrator, started her higher ed journey closer to home, 15 minutes down the road at the local community college. To save money, she is planning to spend two years at Pasadena City College, a two-year public institution, before heading to what she hopes will be a top four-year university where she will earn her bachelor’s degree.