Pressures of Being a First Gen College Student

The Pressure Of Being A First Generation College Student

I know your ancestors are so proud of you.


My mom always told me I was going to college.

No matter if I had to kick, cry and scream my way through the process, I was going to college. Growing up in a multi-cultured, indigenous household, I never once thought how all odds were against me. No one in my immediate family received a four year college degree. So when it came to applying for colleges, I could not look to my parents or grandparents for help. Everything was done through my own research and asking my school counselors. Even then, I was completely confused on what would make me a good candidate in each college. What would make me stand out? I then began to focus on my story.

Personal statements hold a great importance to represent yourself in the admissions process. As I wrote my story I started to cry. Not because of the deep trauma I have had to build myself up from, but the trauma my family has felt through each generation. I admit, the women in my family are some of the strongest women I know. They are the reason I have a backbone and do not hide behind corners anymore. When I write my story, whether through blog posts or poetry, I find myself looking back at obstacles and things that could have prevented me from going to college.

I knew I was smart. I worked my butt off all throughout school, despite some traumatic events. When everything around me seemed to be out of control and falling apart, I chose to focus on school. School was the only thing in my control. If I failed a test, that was on me. If I got 100%, that was because I studied. I did not blame my family for having bad grades or not working hard enough. I could blame them. I could blame a lot of things on those who have caused my PTSD and anxiety, but what is the point? These situations make me stronger. No one whose had an easy life ever has an interesting story to tell.

Now that I am in college, the pressure has intensified. Grandma and Papa are so proud of me. They tell everyone around them that I am a college girl and going to get my degree. But when I look around, it truly is only me. I cannot call up a family member and tell them, "Hey how did you deal with this in your 3rd year of college?" My peers are great people to talk to but nothing beats asking a family member about this.

Sometimes, I just want to drop out or pause my courses for a little while. When I bring that up, it is as if the world has been set on fire. Being in college can appear easy from the outside looking in. University looks so easy and stress-free if you have never attended. College is a whole new world from high school. The amount of independence does not compare to high school. No one is going to check up on you every single minute, you have to check up on yourself. Life happens too. My grandma passed away the second quarter of my Freshman year, and that broke me. I wanted to drop out right then and there. I had two midterms that week. And guess what I did? Two days after my grandma passed, myself and two blue books were in class, ready to take two exams. Of course, I cried my eyes out in the bathroom after the exams. That year hurt so bad. Even now, I still remember that type of pain. It just doesn't go away, but it does get better though.

Stay strong. Because it does indeed get better.

You are climbing mountains just attending college. Be proud of where you have come from and who you are becoming. I know your ancestors are so proud. I am proud of you.

Popular Right Now

Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Working On My Emotional Health Is At The Top Of My To-Do List

I'm finally realizing the importance of my mental and emotional health.


The month of April has been so eye-opening for me. For the first bit of the year, I felt like I was in a slump; like I was just going through the motions and not fully living my life.

I was letting boy drama, school stress, and my poor actions to deal with those issues take over my life. I was allowing the anger and shame from those mistakes bubble up inside me until I was just about ready to explode.

I was allowing myself to go back to old ways of coping with problems that I knew weren't healthy, but I knew would be a short-term fix.

I simply wasn't living.

Then, one day I woke up and told myself I needed to change, and that if I didn't, I'd be on this same path ten years from now... or worse. I told myself I needed to get my life back on track with the Lord and with who I want to be as a rising senior in college.

After meeting with one of the leaders at my church (btw, everyone needs a Mrs. Jenny in their life!) and with my therapist, I'm starting to realize how important my emotional health is. My way of dealing with problems hasn't been working all that well, so I know it's time to try something else.

It's all going to be a huge learning process (and at times, an uphill battle), but I know working on my emotional health now will build me to be the best I can in the future.

By learning to become more open to healthier ways of dealing with issues as they come up (like not avoiding problems and actually facing them head-on), I know I can become my best self, and that is something I'm willing to work on with my whole heart.

So, I'm learning to let go of needing to control everything in my life because honestly, wanting to control everything puts me more out of control than when I first started.

And, I encourage you to do the same.

Related Content

Facebook Comments