The Story of a First Generation College Student

The Story of a First Generation College Student
The Story of a First Generation College Student
I am a first generation college graduate. My grandparents never went to college. My father graduated from high school (barely) and my mom ended up earning her GED after dropping out of high school when she became pregnant at 18. When I was two years old, my parents divorced, and I was raised by a single mother who supported me and my older brother on a waitress’s salary. We lived in government housing for a while to get by. From elementary school through high school, my family wavered between poor and lower middle class. Statistically, having this kind of background meant my older brother and I were less likely to graduate from college, or even to attend college at all. But somehow, both of us went on to earn bachelor’s degrees.

Perhaps you’re in the same situation. When your family is barely scraping by, sometimes your college education is placed on the backburner, or worse, outright discouraged. But these obstacles can be overcome — and I am living proof.

I made up my mind early on that I wanted to go to college. I worked hard to succeed in high school, preparing extensively for the PSAT and SAT. I jumped at the chance to take dual credit courses at my school. These courses were taught by instructors from a nearby community college, counted as both high school and college credit, and were offered absolutely free. And free is great news when your family is broke. I marveled at the opportunity at the time, but have since learned that these programs have expanded greatly throughout the U.S. At age 16, before I had even graduated from high school, I was building a college transcript.

Working with my high school guidance counselor, I learned about federal financial aid. My mom tried to help me out with the process, but threw in the towel when she learned that since she’d married my step-dad, my family technically made too much money for me to qualify for certain grants and that my loans would not cover all of the cost of my tuition. It was discouraging, but I pressed on. My stepdad agreed to help cover some of my tuition as long as I agreed to keep my grades up and help him out by working to pay for my own books, gas and my portion of tuition. Even my grandparents helped out when they could. It was truly a family effort.

I also commuted to cut back on living and dining hall expenses. I pursued scholarships after a few semesters in college. I ate a lot of Ramen. I worked full time and went to school full time — yes, it’s possible. My brother and I both did it. And you know what? We both graduated! And whether or not your story is the same as mine, so can you.
http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2010/02/

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