Collegeboard.org defines us as the first person, from our immediate family, to attend college, “not to be confused with first generation immigration status;” a person whos parent’s highest degree attained was a high school diploma, the equivalent, or less, and finally, a first-generation student can come from any range of economic status: low, middle, or high-income familes.
But what does this mean?
This means we, first-gen students, are the first to learn and experience the system.
We struggle to fill out FAFSA.
We don’t know where to apply.
How do we prepare for the SAT?
Don’t forget about the ACT.
Will we do better in a public or private school?
How does this whole scholarships, grants, subsidized, and unsubsidized loans work?
Will my major be worth anything when I graduate?
And finally, how do I translate all this information in a way that I understand and can later explain it to my parents.
These are some of the countless things that occur during our journey to college. Some people are lucky to have mentors, parents, and advisers that guide us along the way, while others have the potential but no one there.
That is why it is important for first-generation students to stick together.
Four years ago, I was one of those students who had no idea what was going on. I was confused with all the numbers on FAFSA. I had little motivation to finish college application since I did not know what school I wanted to attend. I was terrified of the possibility of taking out loans, and I just wanted it to be over. Now, I am proud to say that in three short months, I will be graduating from Texas A&M University.
I believe that one of the biggest responsibilities first-generation students is giving back to their younger counterparts. Some have paved their way, and therefore, they should guide others and share their wisdom. In this dog eat dog world we live in, it is essential to lend a hand to those that need it most. If we want a more educated and open-minded society, education is the key to the future, and that means throwing ourselves into the unknown sea, even if we are scared, and coming out stronger.
-- Anna Martinez