10 Confessions Of A First-Generation College Student

10 Confessions Of A First-Generation College Student

Being a first-generation college student can be a lot of pressure.

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I'm the first person in my family to go to a four-year university. With that comes a lot of pressure. I saw some of it coming, but I could never prepare myself for all of the obstacles that have come my way. Now that I'm about halfway done with college, I've noticed where I struggle the most.

1. I get so stressed.

We're all stressed and it's not a competition to see who has it the worst, but having added stress from something you have no control over is never easy. Being a first-generation college student means the odds are not in my favor for graduation, money is extra tight, and there's a common string of guilt among students like me. It's a lot of pressure and I feel it a lot more at certain points.

2. I get jealous of students who aren't first-generation.

There are students in my classes who I know have all these resources and an abundance of support. They grew up hearing stories of college and their whole lives they were preparing for the moment they'd go to college and make their own. I envy those kids because, for me, college is this ocean I was just thrown into. And I did want to learn to swim, but there just wasn't anyone to teach me. Within four years I'll figure it out, but it won't be easy.

3. My parents try so hard but they'll never fully understand.

I have the most supportive and thoughtful parents on the planet and I'm so thankful for that. But sometimes I go through things they can't relate to and that can be so hard to deal with. I know how bad they want to help me out and get me through any problems that might come up. At times I really wish I did have people at my disposal who have dealt with what I go through but it makes me that much stronger when I have to just learn as I go. On the other hand, I can be glad my parents raised me to be headstrong and independent.

4. There aren't enough people who get it.

The majority of professors assume that the students they're teaching have a sort of guide and automatically know exactly what to do. We're expected to have it all together and while no student is going to have their ducks in a row, it's even more unlikely with students who are going through it almost alone.

5. I'm afraid to ask for help.

There have been moments when I get completely in my head and I start thinking I'm completely on my own. I know I'm not and there are resources designated for me when I have questions, but it seems like my questions and concerns are really stupid and that they aren't real issues. I fear people will think I'm stupid, so I don't tell anyone.

6. I'm afraid to fail.

Failure is statistically more likely for first-generation students and that terrifies me. I'm so afraid that I won't amount to anything. It's scary that I could either be the first person in my family to graduate from a major university, or I could be the first to make it to one and then choke. Either way, it should be a big deal that I got into one at all, but to me, it isn't. I hold myself to the highest standards, regardless of if anyone else does the way I think. I've put all the weight on my shoulders.

7. I feel this huge pressure to make the most of the opportunity I have.

By the grace of God, and because of scholarships, aid, and programs built to help me, I'm going to college nearly for free. I'm so blessed and I really shouldn't complain about all these futile things that won't matter. But because of this opportunity, I put so much pressure on myself to do well and make the most of everything. I wish I could act like some of the things I do with my time here won't matter, but it all does. I have no room for screwing up. I have to hope the major I chose leads to something magnificent and that I do things that will benefit the greater parts of my life.

8. When I graduate, it will be the biggest deal and I'm not excited about it.

Being the first person on either side of my family to graduate from a university is such a milestone and I know it will cause a lot of attention. I know I'll be proud of myself and it'll be exciting, but part of me hopes it won't be a huge deal. College was inevitable for me. I knew all along that it would for sure, without a doubt happen, so now that I'm here and in the swing of things, it's no big thing.

9. I've been ashamed of it.

I've been ashamed of not having anyone in my family that had gone to college, especially freshman year. I didn't want anyone to know I had no idea what I was doing or how big of a struggle any of this would be for me. I never loved my family any less and it's not that I was ashamed of them, I was just embarrassed to have to do it more independently.

10. It also makes me really proud.

There has been so much personal growth with me because of how independent I've been. Every obstacle I get through makes me significantly stronger. Every time I have to ask for help, I learn something important. As I make my way through this massive learning experience, I become so much wiser. I took any bit of shame I had of where I came from and replaced it with this immense feeling of pride in where I am now and how far I can go.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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Just Because I'm Not A Good Test Taker Doesn't Mean I'm Not Smart

Grades don't equal intelligence.

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After being in college for almost a whole year, I'm starting to realize that I am not good at taking exams... at all. Sitting in a big lecture hall with 100 plus students taking an exam stresses me out more than the exam itself. I get so nervous... so anxious that it affects the way I take my exams. I get so nervous that sometimes I freak out just reading the first question, even if I know how to do it and I have to make myself calm down before I can actually start the exam.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in school, as most students do. I want to prove myself to my family that they're spending all this money for me to go to a great school for a reason. All that pressure can become overwhelming, though.

Just because I'm not good at taking exams doesn't mean I'm not smart. It's such an important idea to remember. Your grades don't define who you are as a person. Bad grades don't mean you're stupid. I don't do the best on some of my exams, but I know I'm smart. I know I know what I'm talking about. I study my ass off, and sometimes my grades don't reflect that, which can be so frustrating. It doesn't mean that I give up or stop putting in all the effort I can.

Just because you might not be good at taking exams doesn't mean you're not smart. I know it might be hard to think that way, but grades don't reflect your intelligence level. You know what you know. You know how much effort you put in. You know what grades you deserve and should be getting.

Don't let your exam grades determine who you are.

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