When you're the first generation in your family to attend college, it comes with some perks and a whole lot of downfalls.
While everyone is happy for you, proud of you — they don't understand the trials you face or how hard college can really be.
A lot of the time, your work and struggles will be brushed off or your trials will be told they are minute. What is an exam to an exhausting, long day of work? What is eating ramen every day to trying to feed a family of four, five, etc.? They just don't understand it, and sometimes, you will even start to believe it; "This shouldn't be so hard for me."
It's not their fault they don't understand either — they've never been there or anywhere close to there.
They've never experienced the trials you're facing. You can't really blame them. Does that make their comments or actions affect you less? Probably not. Despite your understanding, they lack in that department due to their inexperience, and at times it will still hurt.
College students work their ass off. Excuse my French, but there's just not a better way to put it. College is not like grade school. The material is much harder, and your professors are not there to coddle you or make sure you pass. Most of them couldn't care less. They are there to lecture or provide the information you need, and it is completely up to you to learn and practice the material.
If I haven't made it clear enough — no, the 12-18 hours we spend in class a week are not sufficient to learning or mastering the material. On average, a successful college student requires two to three hours of study time for each hour that they spend in class.
If math isn't your thing, this means a student who is taking a traditional full-time course load of 12-15 hours, in order to perform well, will need at least 24-30 hours of studying time a week.
Being a college student is the equivalent of working a full-time job.
On top of an average college student's 36-45 hours a week on class time, coursework and studying, they often have other responsibilities as well. Very rarely can a student in this economy, with prices of college and living expenses climbing each year, be blessed enough to focus on school and school alone — especially those who are first-gen college students.
So on top of their full-time job as a student, college students will usually have at least one (or a combination of) the following: work study, an internship, a part-time job, or a side-job for a small business they've made or are a part of to make extra cash. The hours spent on these can be anywhere from 10-40 hours a week.
Already, we are at the equivalent of not one, but two full-time jobs.
This is not including any organizations the student is a part of as well — attending events, meetings, etc. If they hold a leadership role in the organization, double or triple the amount of time that's dedicated to it.
This is also not including any commuting time, finding parking (which is not usually easy on a college campus), walking to classes, or just finding time in the day to eat something that's not from a vending machine.
College students run on less sleep, less food and less energy than what you'd think would be humanly possible for the amount of work that is required of them. It is not easy — no matter what degree plan the student has chosen.
To the family of first-generation students, stop being so hard on us. I promise, most of us are doing all we possibly can to be where we are — grade-wise, financially and mentally. Recognize that you don't really understand what they are going through, and try your best to understand what you can.
To the first-gen college students reading this, don't give up. You're paving the way for change, the betterment of yourself and your family, and doing something no one else in your family has done before.
You're a rockstar; keep on fighting. It will be worth it.