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Lately, I’ve been trying to backtrack my mind to when I was a high school senior. I know—I’m being a little dramatic since it was only about a year and a half ago, but it feels like ages!
I remember the pressure and confusion that came with filling out applications. Pressure because I knew I not only had to get accepted, but I needed to earn a scholarship that would pay off a good chunk of college tuition for me to be able to enroll. Confusion because there were so many papers to fill out, boxes to check yes or no to, and essay prompts to write. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. Being a first-generation college student, I had to figure these answers out on my own.
Now, it wasn’t that my parents would say, “We haven’t been to college. Sorry, can’t help.” They were wonderful and supportive, and helped me out with what they could. They would praise me if they thought something was beautifully written and give suggestions on what I should add.
What they couldn’t help me with was editing my papers and applications to fit what admissions offices were looking for. And like every person applying to colleges and for scholarships knows, that is pretty important. So I visited my English teachers and asked them to look over my papers. I YouTube searched “What Colleges Look For in the Application Process” and “How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay.” Seems silly, but I did what I had to do. I can proudly say that, because I reached out for extra help, I got into every college that I applied to, and every school offered me an academic scholarship.
This is by no means a “look-what-I-did” post, but rather a “you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to” post. God knows, my grammar can be pretty frightening, and I am well aware of that, so I went out and asked for help. It’s okay to not have answers. It is not okay to not do anything about finding them, and then have regrets about never taking action.
If you’re reading this and are about to be a first-generation college student, don’t worry. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be as smart as everyone else, because I assumed everyone had parents that were alumni of colleges all around the country. The truth is, I’m holding my own just fine. I’ve met a number of other first-generation college students who had similar misgivings. But it hasn’t stopped any of us.
It is a beautiful thing to be surrounded by people who knew what they wanted and went for it. You can be that person, too.