Journey of a first generation college student

Growing up, throughout the years I was in school, there was an overwhelming amount of pressure on me to take the highest honors classes, get the best grades, and make sure I get into a decent college.

After years of dedication, hours of studying, and struggles inside and outside of school, here I am attending Long Beach State to get my bachelor’s in journalism as a first generation college student.

To say I’m proud of myself is an understatement because it is a huge accomplishment. My father never graduated high school and my mother never attended college to my knowledge. They struggled a lot to find their way, so when it came to me, it was a no-brainer if whether or not I was attending college.

According to the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, as of 2021 only one third of college students are first generation. Of those first generation students only 27% of them graduated within 4 years, the rest graduated in 6 or more.

I obtained my Associate Degree for transfer in 4 years, so I am a prime example of one of those 27%. I used to be so hard on myself about finishing in two years, but I realized after a while it’s a marathon, not a race.

According to the Education Advisory Board, “Nearly half of first-gen students attend community college, compared to 25% of students with college-educated parents.”

In my experience, attending a community college was the best option for me for many reasons. Along with the classes being way cheaper than university courses, Saddleback Community College was only a little over a mile away from my house.

Community college was an amazing way to save money, yet I still gained the same education as I would if I attended a 4-year institution.

According to Brandeis University, “81% of first-gen college students reported financial stability as their goal for attending college.”

Having a single father, school was and still is hard to financially manage, so attending a community college for my first couple of years was the way to go.

It can be hard for a parent that didn’t attend college to be able to afford their child’s tuition, so I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to utilize Saddleback College for my education.

Saddleback provided an easy, accessible way to transfer to my dream college, CSULB, and it was a lot easier for me to transfer than it would have been to get in straight out of high school.

As overwhelming and challenging this journey has been, it has also brought great pride to not only my family, but to myself. Being a first generation graduate-to-be is something I look forward to, and I’m grateful for all the opportunities that lie ahead.


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