First-generation college students, you are not alone

          Illustration by Anthony Lazon/The EtCetera


Who knew one of the most exciting times in my life would also be the most difficult and terrifying?

For most students, the transition from high school to college is a dream, but that’s not always true for a first-generation college student.

I graduated from a performing arts high school last spring and started college in the fall.  Although no one in my family had been to college, that was the only option I knew I had, along with working a part-time job.

As a high school senior, I applied to five out-of-state and four in-state universities but was unable to afford to attend any of them. I wanted so badly to have someone to blame for this, but there was no one at fault.

To be quite honest, I was ashamed of having no choice but to go to a community college. I had lost some of my motivation.

For a while, I thought about not even going to college and just getting a full-time job. I did everything I was supposed to do, and did it right, so why didn’t I belong at a university?

Come to find out, attending a community college was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me.

But it wasn’t a successful endeavor right off the bat.

I began going to school at Richland College, where I had hoped to get abundant advice, guidance, tips and tricks; I was wrong.

I was given a single sheet of paper and told, “You’ll figure it out.” 

That was such a discouraging moment for me. I expected more, and I still had no idea of the tools I required to be successful.

Thankfully, I survived my first semester and passed all my classes. I decided for my second semester that I would attend Eastfield College because it was closer to home.

Here, I was given the assistance I had been longing for by an adviser named Lamont Blackman. He took the time to provide an in-depth explanation of everything I needed to do and also told me why I needed to do it.

After our discussion, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my body. My entire outlook instantly changed. I knew now I had the knowledge and confidence to achieve anything.

Blackman is precisely the type of adviser every first-generation college student needs.

I hope advisers at community colleges, as well as universities, will start to realize how much help first-generation college students actually do need. Hopefully, they will go that extra mile in ensuring that they get that help.

Having the opportunity to attend college is a blessing in itself, and we must make sure these students do not slip through the cracks.

1 Comment

  1. That is so awesome Lauryn! Good for you. I am so happy everything is going so well…congratulations! You are such an inspiration to many young adults.

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