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From A First Generation Student

You know your parents are there for you no matter what, but it’s a hard reality when you realize that there are some things that they can’t help you with. It’s even tougher when you have to push through them completely independently.

This is the reality of many first generation students as they’ve been completely independent from the start. Whether it was language arts or social studies homework or translating their own parent-teacher meetings, it’s always been the first generation students who’ve had to figure out not only their own way in life, but the life of their immigrant parents as well.

After years of this, there comes a time when both the students and parents are stumped: college application season. This is the time where these students wish they had parental figures who can give advice about what to include in an essay or share anecdotes about their experiences in college. It gets frustrating trying to do the most important task of their high school career all on their own. Then, the frustration turns into guilt, since they know they’re lucky to be applying to college in the first place.

As if applying to college wasn’t tough already, mixing in these frustrations and anxieties can make the student feel totally helpless. They are the first generation, and like everything else, they have to figure it out and push through this on their own.

As college application season begins and everyone starts theirs, it’s okay to be hesitant. But once you get started on one, there are somethings that should be kept in mind:

  • When beginning the application process, it’s easy to forget that every application is meant to be filled out by the student, not the parent. No language barrier or lack of experience can get in the way of you and your application. It feels better to have someone double check and proofread everything, but in the end, it’s always been you. Remember that for the past 13 years in school, you’ve always been your own autocorrect.
  • No matter how alone you may feel, you’re never actually on your own. There are counselors, teachers, and students in a similar situation that are available to help. Take advantage of every one of them. It’s better to have your questions answered than to continue with uncertainty. Any type of uncertainties and suddenly the whole process is a lot harder than it is intended to be.
  • Once receiving help, remember that everyone makes mistakes. Even the students who are being guided by their parents through each step of the college admission process will make a mistake. So don’t blame yourself and wish you were in a better situation. The situation has been the same all your life and you’ve gotten here to this point for a reason.
  • But the most important thing is to talk to your parents. It seems like such a disconnect trying to talk to your parents about college but they’re still there to listen. Express to them your intended major, your pros and cons about certain colleges, and anything else because feeling supported by them is more important than any amount of advice they can ever give you. Remember, they didn’t come all the way to a different country to not support you in the biggest task you’ve ever had to do thus far. Hearing about your journey will make them proud and it should make you proud too.