When people ask me about first generation students, the first thing that comes to mind are the parents of these students, the parents that are not from the United States and didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. Their children would then identify as first generation since they would be the first in their families born in the United States.
Additionally, they would also be the first ones to do everything that their parents weren’t able to pursue when they were teenagers. Oftentimes, these parents might have come to the U.S. without an education and unfortunately didn’t have an opportunity to enroll in school because they probably needed to look for a job.
Being first generation students attending college is not at all easy because these students have to discover everything on their own since they don’t have anybody to help them. Maneuvering the educational system is difficult enough as it is but for first generation students it seems nearly impossible.
Their parents would be unable to help them because they don’t understand what or how post-secondary education works. First generation students would have to look for resources and guidance that would help them apply to institutions of higher education and provide them with information on financial aid as well as career choices, eligibility requirements, housing options, and so much more.
Needless to say, these students go through so many struggles so that they can achieve their goal and make their parents proud. They could triumphantly say, “I did it.”
A perfect example of the struggles that first generation students face would involve my sister because she was the first in my family to attend college. She is attending Cal State Long Beach and is studying to become a chemical engineer.
She repeatedly told me how difficult it was for her to apply to college and to try to get scholarships to be able to afford her education. She had to find someone to help her with all of that because my parents simply couldn’t assist her with any of it. She had to pay special attention and be proactive at all times to ensure she would meet all deadlines.
Now that it’s my turn to apply to college; my sister is qualified to help me out because she doesn’t want me to feel stressed about the application process like she was. She wants me to follow in her footsteps and be the next child to pursue a college education and build a career. I fully intend to follow her advice on attending college because I want to be a role model for my younger siblings just like she has become my role model.
First generation is someone who does things first in their family. It can make you feel so stressful because you might not know what to do and your parents can’t help, but there are always someone at school that will give you advice. Everything can be done if you put all your effort in what you want to accomplish.