Post 7: First-Generation Student Status

I am a first generation college student.

My dad has a diploma equivalent to a high school degree.

My mom has been schooling for more than 18 years, constantly dropping out due to obligations, and has not received any certificate of education valued more than a high school degree.

As both of my parents are people who did not obtain a college degree they worked blue collar like jobs their whole life. My parents, with no experience relating to the college system, were not able to help me navigate through the application process. Luckily for me, I’m not the first born in my family. My two older sisters probably had more of a struggle than I did. I sought their help. I really had no prior knowledge towards applying to colleges, financial aid, and other technical processes until my senior year in high school. My oldest sister goes to a community college and the second oldest goes to a small 4 year state university.

What I discovered later that the application process from a community school was almost completely different than the application process to the University of Minnesota. There I uncovered more barriers towards my college application process. Although we did have required courses at our high school that helped explain college application processes, they weren't as helpful as they aimed to be. Perhaps it was the instructor’s choice of schedule but we spent little to no time actually applying or exploring colleges. Out of one semester, we’d spend typically only 1–2 weeks or maybe even less. As I was very limited in applying to “big” universities, I often sought help in the guidance office meeting with my school counselor.

In the end, some how it worked out and I was accepted to all the colleges I applied to (I only applied to 3… but still, pretty gewd!). I was the first in my family to finalize my college choice to a “big” college. As my parents did not go to college, I never had the experience of asking them how their college days were, if they joined any clubs or lived on dorms.

My parents, especially my mom, had always encouraged me to go to college. I find that my mom is my biggest inspiration to continue towards higher education. My mom works really hard at pursuing her education. When she had a job, she worked full time while taking classes and was gone for more than 12 hours a day. As she is limited in her English, it does not discourage her in her goals. My mom did not have the opportunities I had (which makes me very thankful for how far I’ve come).

In relation to my mom as my inspiration, when I was a PSEO student at Metropolitan State University, I found many students over there as great inspirations as well. Metro State is a non-traditional school. Many of the students are older adults pursuing higher education and also people from cultural diverse background.

I came to the University of Minnesota having no idea what to expect. So far my experience at the University has been really positive. I think the university has many resources for students like me to explore and great academic advisers who help students navigate through the college system.