First generation college experiences and lessons learned
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 16:01
College. One word that can mean 100 different things. For some, college might be all about the parties and for others it could be about snagging a degree as soon as possible and moving on with life and a career.
For me, college was a dream that I knew I wanted to come true.
I am a first-generation college student. My parents were not given the opportunity to further their education. Ever since I was able to understand how college could have impacted their lives, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in my own life and have the chance to attend college.
There are many people who are also first-generation students. It is comforting to know that you aren’t alone in a big sea of people. What all of the first-generation students might not realize is that we are coming into a new world.
Since my mom nor dad went to college, I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone says that college is harder than high school. Even if that might be true, it could be different on each person’s standards. It is like running into a battlefield blindfolded.
Everyone works on different levels so of course, college could be hard or easy for any student. I didn’t know what I could have been getting myself into but I did know that the outcome was going to be worth it in the end.
College. This can also be known as some of the best years of your life. Even though I didn’t know what to expect, I am so happy I made the decision to come to college. I not only want to do it for myself but to show my parents and my family that I can make a difference.
I still remember when I first drove on to campus and met my roommate (who is still my roommate) and got to enjoy some of the weekend activities offered. I knew from that point that I was going to okay.
My new transition was one that I wanted and it was only going to help me grow as a person.
I wish my parents were able to go to college but I know that they support me through everything. Their support is very strong and I am thankful for them.
No one should ever be afraid of college because it truly is some of the best years of life.
Being the middle child, I was hardly the first at anything, but when my brother joined the Navy after high school, I had my chance to be the first to college.
However, with first time experience comes first time problems.
My biggest problem: financial aid.
My grades were just good and I was a great student, so I did not think I would have any problems.
Then came the mountain of paper work for FAFSA applications, tax returns and federal pell grant applications.
In high school, I heard that FAFSA was enough to pay for my college if I qualified for the full amount.
I did, but boy was I wrong and problems quickly ensued.
I had never gone to a financial aid office. I had never had anyone tell me “this is what you do and how you do it.”
So, not having enough aid and with a few thousand dollars worth of loans, I withdrew from the university.
Unfortunately, the company I had acquired loans from had no grace period for paying them back if I had withdrawn and I could not get any other loans until I paid it off. Entirely.
So I spent the next few years working as anything from a substitute teacher to a DJ to a ranch hand to pay off my loan.
In fact, my sister, who graduated three years after me, finished college before I did.
All well, I was still the first one here. Right?
Now, hopefully all of you have this financial aid thing down, but in case you don’t, here are some quick tips:
1. The financial aid office and its workers are there to help. Go ask questions, get step by step instructions and get to know them. They will be invaluable throughout your college career.
2. Check your department for scholarships. Some of my most helpful scholarships have come from my department. Even if they are small, every bit helps.
3. Ask your classmates. As valuable as the financial aid office are the upper class man who have “been there, done that.” Despite my own issues entering college, I have now helped several incoming friends with their aid. It’s the least I can do, I was in their shoes once.