I’mFirst has an amazing scholarship opportunity for first-generation high school students entering their first year of college. The deadline has been extended to June 2nd. Please apply. Financing your college education can be difficult–so ANY time you can apply for FREE money, please take advantage.
Memorial Day, often forgotten or regarded as a 3 day party weekend. Days filled with BBQ’s, fun at the beach, and a day off. It is more than that. Sadly, we forget or get complacent in our day to day lives thus failing to realize that our BBQ and family fun 3 day weekends, have come at a price.
Take time and thank a veteran. Veterans have served and are continuing to serve for our freedom, because, freedom isn’t free. Thank you to all the men and women and their families who have sacrificed everything for my freedom, for my opportunities, for my country.
Veterans and soldiers are not abstract. They have faces and names. They are sons and daughters; husbands and wives; mothers and fathers; aunts, uncles and cousins.
They are soldiers like Nic Madrazo who sacrificed his life, so that I could sit here and write this blog and you could read it.
Sorry gang. I am quite a bit delayed in posting. I may have mentioned that I am a graduate student and it just so happens I am graduating in less than a month. (insert senioritis face). Yes, I have a major case of the senioritis which means my brain is mush and I want to rot it by watching awesome episodes of Hells Kitchen and Real Housewives. All of you have or will face these feelings of mush. Where your brain is decompressing and it is def-con level 5 basically all systems going to blow–must shut down immediately mode.
So, since I do not have too much to say, I think I will let this awesome video speak for me. What I want you to walk away is not that I am being a lazy sponge rotting my brain on tv but that you are an incredible person. As a First Generation College Student your talents, your intelligence and your experiences are making you someone great and there is no limit or boundaries holding you back. You are destined for success. Keep up your hard work — it will pay off.
We all have a fascination with leaders, celebrities, and other prominent public figures. I am intrigued by those that identify as first gen college students. Here is a small list of some well known first gen’ers:
- Viola Davis, Academy Award Nominated Actress
- Colin Powell, 65th US Secretary of State
- Dr. Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon and first physician to successfully separate conjoined twins
- Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice
- Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
- Michelle Obama, 44th First Lady of the United States
I constantly hear students say, “ugh, I have to finish my degree in four years; so I am doing this major because it allows me to graduate faster.” Or I hear, “my parents want me to major in this because I can get a job after graduation.” Even worse I hear students really being hard on themselves when their grades aren’t as “good as they were in high school.”
My goal in this post is to tell you a few things:
- College is not high school. The level of coursework, your academic load, and expectations are completely different. Professors have different expectations than your high school teachers. The coursework itself is much more difficult and requires more critical and analytical thinking and stronger communication and writing skills. You might have a class of 500 where you may just be a number versus in high school where your teacher knew who you were and how you tick. High school was the launching off point for you. And unfortunately, some students have stronger access to college prep than others. Conversely, for you as a student, you may not have had that access. I know I didn’t. I had to go to community college for 3 years just to take classes that would transfer to university.
- No college student is the same therefore how can every student fit into the standard four year college experience? It is impossible. I get the fact that college is pricey and the sooner you finish the better. I get that, in fact, I totally understand that. College is an expensive investment. But that is just it. It is an investment in you. Students should really take charge of their college years and make them what they want it to be. You only have this small moment in time to really explore and do things you like. It took me 7 years to graduate with my undergrad degree. I’ve said in previous postings I had a “thorough” university experience. In those 7 years, there were still things I didn’t get to experience. Like study abroad, for instance. I know what your thinking as soon as you read that, “I can’t afford a study abroad.” I thought the same, hence, I never went. But you know what, you can afford it. College institutions have scholarships for study abroad. There are certain programs that are geared towards underrepresented students, first gen students, graduate students, etc. I never knew that. If you are reading this, and you want to do something like that– RESEARCH what is out there. Go to your Study Abroad office, scholarship office, advisor and ask them, nay tell them: “I want to do a study abroad, where do I start?” It is as easy as that. Do it.
- Parents, we love them don’t we? They mean well, or at least, I have to think they mean well. But often times, they aren’t realizing the pressure they put on you, to be something you’re not. I had a parent tell me once, “I read an article on Yahoo that said Liberal Arts students aren’t getting jobs and my son is in liberal arts. Change his mind.” After I stared long and hard at this misguided parent, I proceeded to tell them I have a Liberal Arts degree and I have a job. Parents don’t realize that job markets are changing. Yeah there are some difficulty in describing some degrees, but that is one clarifying answer during your job interview. Major in what you want to major in. It is much, much, much easier and efficient for you to major in something you are strong in and enjoy versus majoring in something you hate.
Okay, I think I am done. I will get off my soap box now. If you only read one line of this blog, read this:
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ACADEMIC AND CAREER PATHWAY, DO IT ON YOUR TIME AND IN YOUR TERMS. THIS IS YOUR INVESTMENT–MAKE IT ABOUT YOU.
By now, depending on where you are at in your education you have probably been around campus enough to know certain people. You know the custodians that tell you hello every morning as you stop and get that much needed cup of coffee. Or you have your advisor that requires you to speak with them before you register every quarter or semester for classes. Or maybe you met a senior student who was taking a first or second year class just to get that elective credit. Or perhaps you are getting ready to graduate and you’ve seen your career counselor more times than you’ve gone home to see your parents. Out of all those people that you see on the day to day, pick one of them or pick a couple of them and ask yourself, “what have I learned from them?” What have they taught me about myself, that perhaps I didn’t know?”
“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.” Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
Seek out someone that you can call a mentor. Mentoring can be formal or informal. For myself, I have a couple of mentors. First, my colleague, who I have not only learned how to be better at my profession, but I’ve learned how to be more patient, how to be a good friend, and more importantly what it means to be a lady as I never had that guidance growing up from a female figure. Another mentor I have is a professor that stands up for what they believe in. This individual doesn’t just teach what is written in a book. They teach and have taught me to think outside of standardized education–that education isn’t just reading a book and memorizing the text, which goes against everything I had been taught in not only my K-12 schooling but my undergraduate work as well. Finally, this individual has challenged me in ways that I had never been challenged before. And while I must admit in the moment, I was totally against this “new way of teaching” I did learn that I was very lucky I had someone so willing to push me and get through my stubborn thick headed-ness.
The point of all of this: find people that you can learn from. That are going to challenge you to be better than you are in this exact moment in time. These individuals are going to stretch you to your limit and keep pushing you to go past that limit that you set for yourself. Find that person that you can go to for support. If you need to sit in someone’s office and have Cryfest or Ventfest 2014 than do so. These individuals will be there to listen and support no matter what you are saying. And they are people that aren’t going to agree with all that you say, they are going to be supportive enough to tell you things you may not want to hear. (Which from personal experience isn’t the funnest moment, but it is in those moments of you hearing what you don’t want to hear–where you learn the most.)
Be open and willing to open yourself up to someone. It will help you succeed in your first year, it will help you find your pathway in your sophomore year, they will give you the momentum to finish your junior year, and finally they will be there for you on graduation with support and pride as you finish your senior year…if you let them. Trust me, I would not be where I am if it weren’t for people that I let in.
First a huge thank you to all of our service men and women who have sacrificed and have given so much to this country and their fellow citizens. We in higher education welcome our service men and women with gratitude and deep appreciation for their service to our country. If I haven’t said it clearly, or loud, or even enough times: THANK YOU.
Veterans are coming to college and universities at a very high rate. “Just over half of veterans who sought a higher education from 2002 through 2013 under the GI Bill completed schooling ranging from vocational training to post-graduate, according to an unprecedented review of nearly 800,000 college records” (USA Today).
These unique populations of men and women bring a vibrant and dynamic personality to any campus. Not only are they bringing a sense of mission, they are bringing their intellect, and life experiences which, together culminate into a great perspective that traditional age students do not have.
Many of these veterans are also first generation college students, which that dimension combined with their veteran status provide for a unique student experience. On the UW campus, approximately 1/4th of the student populations are veterans. It is an amazing opportunity that we have in higher education to bring all these diverse individuals, with very different backgrounds and life experiences together for the sake of learning.
Sorry for the delay–was enjoying Spring Break. Which I hope everyone gets the opportunity to step away from their day to day to just enjoy not thinking. Anyways, in my triumphant return, I thought I would post this. REDUCE STAFFORD LOANS–the POTUSwiththemostest told us it was the right thing to do.
What is your education worth? Is it worth $25,00 or $50,000 or even $100,000? What is our obsession with putting a price tag on this investment? For some of us, myself included, it is an expensive investment. I am going to challenge you for a second to stop thinking in terms of what is my education or diploma worth. Start thinking in terms of what AM I WORTH? How much do I want to invest in myself.
Ultimately, your college degree will open many doors for you. That is a given. You are learning great skillsets that will help you throughout your professional and academic endeavors. However, it isn’t about just the things you are learning in the classroom. Your investment is in developing strengths and skills outside the classroom that compliment your classroom experience. Build relationships. Develop likes and learn your dislikes. And just spend your time learning new things while being open to new opportunities. Pave your pathway on the road that you want to be on. Do not let someone else’s academic experience dictate what your experience will be. INVEST IN YOURSELF, AND INVEST IN WHO YOU WANT TO BE AND WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
The Oscars were this last Sunday. And we all love celebrating good movies. More importantly we listen to the speeches. Lupita Nyong’o won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the critically acclaimed film 12 Years a Slave. Her beautiful acceptance speech has made the rounds as being so heartfelt and emotional, and it truly was. What she told everyone, the millions of people watching, were to keep dreaming. For all the dreamers out there-keep dreaming. Dreams do come true.