Keeping it to Myself

Carlos' mother pushes him to prepare for college. She signs him up for an SAT prep course, and they're both surprised by how well he does. It looks like college might really happen for him. He and his friend Kayla meet with their guidance counselor, Ms. Lopez, to get more information on next steps.

Carlos does better on the SATs than he expected while Andy is just figuring out that he might need to take the test himself.

Carlos is suprised by his SAT scores.

Andy and I were chillin’ after school, on the floor in front of the TV, and I was going off. “Dude. You should’ve heard my mom last night. Do your homework. Don’t forget, you got a math test tomorrow. You gotta study more. I mean it, Carlos. Doing good in school matters.” My eyes were glued to the screen as I worked the controller. “Man, I am crushing you!”

Andy didn’t answer. He was too busy trying to figure out how to escape my killer attacks.

My mom is okay. Most of the time, she leaves me alone. I mean, I’m responsible. I work and come home when I’m supposed to or call when I’ll be late, so she doesn’t have much to complain about. But the closer I get to graduation, the more she’s been buggin’ me.

I heard Mom’s car pull into the driveway. She came in with the mail and gave us that look she always uses when we’re playing Xbox. I don’t get it. She’s the one who bought it for me in the first place.

She didn’t even say hello, just got right into it with the school stuff.

“Excuse me, Andy,” she said in her buggin’ voice. “But I want Carlos to get online now. His scores are supposed to be available today.” She walked over to the computer and turned it on.

Andy hit pause and looked at me. “Scores for what?”

“I took the SATs,” I said, wishing she’d waited.

Andy laughed. “You what?”

Andy wants to go to college, but he hasn’t figured out how to make it happen.

I could see my mom tightening up across the room. She didn’t like that Andy wasn’t all over the college thing.

“Yeah, Mom made me take a prep course. And then I had to take the test.”

Mom didn’t say anything, just sat down and started typing in my password.

Andy was quiet. “I thought you were supposed to take SATs in the spring.”

I got up, but even before I took two steps mom turned around with a big smile on her face.

“This is great! You did great!” And she gave me a high five.

I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I was pretty sure I’d done okay, but this was way better than I’d expected. My SAT teacher was always saying to treat the test like a game, figure out how to beat it. I guess I did.


Click here to see Carlos reflect on what his SAT scores mean to him. (dialup OR broadband)

Mom jumped up from the chair. “I’m going to call your dad.” She looked at me. “Oh, Carlos, I’m so proud of you.”

I could hear her talking in the kitchen, not the words, just the up-and-down of her voice. My mom’s always telling us how smart she was in high school, but she didn’t go to college. Nobody else in my family has gone, either. Not yet.

“You’re lucky, man. I can’t bother my mom with this stuff,” Andy said. “She’s cool, but she’s doesn’t have the time.”

Andy’s mom works a lot. When we were kids, we lived in the same apartments and he was over all the time. But then my parents sheetrock business started doing real good, and they bought a house. He’s still over a lot, but I never go to his place.

“That’s what Ms. Lopez is for, fool.” Andy nodded, but I wondered whether he’d really make an appointment to see our guidance counselor. He says he wants to go to college, but I doubt it’ll happen.

Carlos bumps into his friend Kayla outside Ms. Lopez’ office. They both have appointments to get information about going to college.

When I got to guidance and signed in, I saw Kayla’s name on the sheet. She’s always going to guidance or the clinic or whatever. Anything to get out of class.


Click here to see Kayla considering what to do with her life. (dialup OR broadband)

Carlos bumps into his friend Kayla outside Ms. Lopez’ office.

I’ve known Kayla since elementary school, but I don’t get her. She could be normal, you know, but she’s always got to be different. Stand out. My mother just rolls her eyes when she sees Kayla and says, “Where does she come up with those outfits?” But Kayla, she doesn’t care what people think. I wonder what she’s talking to Ms. Lopez about.


Click here to watch Kayla talk to Ms. Lopez about how to register for the SATs. (dialup  OR broadband)


Click here to see Ms. Lopez explain how to prepare for the SATs to Kayla. (dialup OR broadband)


Click here to watch Kayla learn about ACT and SAT options from Ms. Lopez. (dialup  OR broadband)

I see Ms. Lopez maybe two times a year, usually just to do schedules. But this time, my mom wants me to talk to her about financial aid.

I checked out all the brochures in the rack next to the closed door. Nothin’good. Then Kayla finally walked out. She looked a little dazed, but that’s Kayla for you. That girl is out there.


Click here to watch Kayla and Carlos talk. (dialup OR broadband)

Ms. Lopez discusses financial aid options with Carlos.

I headed into Ms. Lopez office. She’s pretty cool, I guess, but it’s still hard for me to know where to begin. I don’t even know what questions I should ask.


Click here to see Ms. Lopez talk with Carlos about different kinds of financial aid. (dialup  OR broadband)

After my talk with Ms. Lopez, I felt as dazed as Kayla looked. I just stood there for a minute trying to remember everything she said. Man, she didn’t even mention scholarships. I wonder if any of my writing is good enough to get me one. I guess Ms. Lopez hasn’t seen any of it. Maybe I shouldn’t keep it such a secret.