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Let’s Talk College For First Gen Students

The idea of applying to college can be challenging, overwhelming, and exciting. Knowing where to start the college hunt and application process can be confusing and frustrating to some, but for others, it can be smooth sailing. Christian Brothers has many prospective first generation college students as well as second and third generation college students […]

The idea of applying to college can be challenging, overwhelming, and exciting. Knowing where to start the college hunt and application process can be confusing and frustrating to some, but for others, it can be smooth sailing. Christian Brothers has many prospective first generation college students as well as second and third generation college students who have an advantage in knowing where to start the process.

After meeting with CB college counselor Ms. Melissa McClellan, I gained insight on the highs and lows of the college application process for first generation students.

Whether it be at a four year university or a junior college, financial aid is an imperative factor in order to continue as well as begin one’s education. Ms. McClellan acknowledges that financial aid is a common factor that can be a difficult barrier throughout the overall process.

“Filling out FAFSA, feeling comfortable contacting admissions offices, knowing how much money someone may be eligible for, and having help at home” are all common barriers for first generation college students. There tends to be a gap between finding resources at school and receiving help at home in knowing how to complete such tasks.

In terms of general setbacks for any college student, Ms. McClellan says, “not sending SAT/ACT scores and not taking them soon enough” along with “sending in financial aid and not being able to afford it” are some difficulties any student can be faced with.

For a non-first generation student, there’s an advantage in knowing where to start the application. Whether it be exposure to the college life from an older sibling or a parent, there’s more of a head start for students compared to a first generation student. The two differentiate in the sense of knowing how to begin the process to guarantee a successful outcome.

Lesandra Gutierrez (‘20) is a prospective first generation student who is working towards a college education. There are several imperative requirements that need to met to even begin to apply.

“It was hard knowing where to sign up to take the tests, and even after that, knowing how to prepare,” she says. “I felt very lost and kind of alone because I couldn’t really turn to my family members for help — I’m the first one to do this.”

But after meeting with her senior class counselor Mr. Armando Diaz (’94), she was in good spirits about what actions needed to be taken.

For second generation students, applying can be an easier process due to older siblings and parents going to college. This is the case for Roxanne Hamlin (‘20), whose older brother is in his third year at Chico State. She acknowledges that she had an advantage with her college applications because of her parents and older sibling having experienced the process already.

“I was able to get help from him since he dealt with the process before me,” she says.

Whether first generation or second, it’s good to take advantage of any resources given to make the overall process easier.

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