WATSONVILLE — Every year, high school seniors muddle through onerous applications in hopes of attending universities throughout the U.S.

In a longstanding tradition, Watsonville High School brings its students together for a “signing ceremony,” in which those who have been accepted show off their colleges of choice.

Some 80 students gathered in the school’s library Tuesday, where they noshed on pizza and talked about the next phase in their lives.

Krista Arellano said she was hard pressed to choose between Stanford and Yale universities, but ultimately chose the latter based on the personal growth it will offer.

“I wanted to try to live in a different place,” she said.

Arellano plans to study political science, and to attend law school after she graduates.

Abraham Gonzalez said he was nervous about his college prospects after he was placed on a wait list at CSU Sacramento. But he recently received his acceptance letter, and plans to study criminal justice in the fall.

Gonzalez hopes to return to the Watsonville area to work as a probation officer.

“I want to be in my community and support my family,” he said.

Principal Elaine Legorreta’s advice for the soon-to-be graduates was to seek help when they need it.

“One thing you have to keep in mind is that you don’t have to do it alone,” she said. “The smartest people in the world use the resources available to them.”

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