Dear High School Senior,

Right now, you are most likely taking a break from completing your many college applications, where you tell yourself you will only take 5 minutes to scroll through your social media newsfeed. You have done your extensive research, gone on the campus tours, and heard admissions counselors boast about their fantastic, life-enriching academic programs. It seems like there are so many options, as almost every option looks appealing. I bet that your frequented website links include The Common Application, The College Board, and the colleges you have been considering for either what seems like your entire existence or the past few months.

At times, the college application process can be a family ordeal, as you have probably discovered by now. Maybe not as intense as what Paris experienced in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2," but possibly similar. You could have your family handing (read: forcing) school merchandise from their alma mater onto you and recounting their "golden college years" from way back when. Or, as the first in your family to pursue college, you could have only the perspectives of college brought to you through teachers, school counselors, friends' older siblings, and/or friends you made in high school who are now in college.

You also might have family trying to push you in a direction that you do not want to go into or try to persuade you from leaving the familiarity of home to make a life for yourself out on your own. With this, I stress the importance of following your dream, not someone else's. You may feel as if you are split in many different directions by friends and family, but in the long run, only you can make the decision of where you will be happiest.

Trust me when I say that as much as you might be one to say that you do not need to conform to what other people want, you will be so excited when you get that first big envelope in the mail or that email that whose first line reads "Congratulations!" Knowing that admissions counselors, who have looked through hundreds if not thousands of applications from your peers across the nation and the world, wanted you to be a member of their college community gives you a special heart-in-throat excited feeling.

While this is a stressful time in your life, I also urge you to take a step back every once in a while during your last year of free, federally mandated public education. Take a moment to reminisce on all you have accomplished, whether it be through your student organization, volunteering in the community, being accepted into the National Honor Society, or even more. Cherish the time you have left with your friends, as once you all leave for your respective colleges, you might not see each other for quite some time.

This is a very exciting (albeit stressful) time of your life. Embrace every college acceptance, no matter how much you predicted that you would be accepted to said college, as each acceptance is an incredible accomplishment you should be proud of.

I wish you the best of luck in your college application process!

Sincerely,

A First-Generation College Student