Growing up in a moderate income area near San Diego, Arnold Cuenca had an interest in and aptitude for science in high school. But as he contemplated potential careers, he, like most of his peers, was encouraged to enter the military or take a job right out of high school -- paths most of his peers chose. His mom was a nurse, though, and that got him thinking about being a doctor.
"Other than my mom, I had nothing to encourage me to become a health professional -- I didn't know what medicine was," says Cuenca.
As financial markets improved, selective private colleges saw their cash and investments increase faster than their operating budgets in the 2004 fiscal year, reversing the pattern of the year before. But except at the very top tier of institutions, the colleges' debt rose even faster, as they poured money into expanding and renovating facilities, Standard & Poor's said in a report released this month.