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Ten Struggles of First-Generation College Students

With my Freshman year at SJSU slowly coming to an end, I can’t help but remember all of the craziness I have been through in only ONE YEAR! Being a First-Generation college student is one of the most rewarding, yet stressful things I have ever accomplished in my life. SO, props to all of you First-Generation students out there, the struggle is SO real out here! You made it through the application phase on your own, now time for the real deal! Below is a list of some serious struggles First-Generation college students have.

Here is a list of 10 COMPLETELY REAL STRUGGLES of First-Generation students!!

  1. You have no idea what to pack for the “dorm-life.” OKAY, but what is a dorm though? How do you “dorm”? Do they have quesadillas?? The questions are never ending. Am I supposed to pack my entire LIFE, or just a few pair of jeans? How much space do I have? Do they actually have closets?

  2. You really have no idea what you are getting into. When I say this, I completely mean it. WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON. Where’s my mom? Where do I get my I.D.? Where do you eat here? What classes do I take?

  3. Once your parents drop you off and leave, there is an awkward feeling lingering. Am I at camp? Okay, this food is alright, but when are my parents coming back?

  4. You are basically a mini-adult. Your daily thoughts consist of, “ I need to pay my tuition, I need to pay my dorm, I need to send some paperwork”. Wait, what is tuition again?

  5. The TERMINOLOGY IS SO DIFFICULT. What is a sorority? What is the Bursar’s office? What is winter session? What is a commuter? With all the words at college campuses that we have never heard of, Google becomes your best friend.

  6. There will be many times where you feel like you don’t belong. TRUST ME, you belong at college just as much as ANY other person. No matter what anyone says, YOU DO BELONG. Hang in there and SHOW them you belong!

  7. Figuring out your class schedule on your own can be a complete nightmare. Well, I think I’m supposed to take this class? Wait, or am I supposed to take that class? Oh no, I completely regret taking all of my easy classes in the first semester instead of balancing them out with some of my difficult classes!! HELP!

  8. You don’t really know the workload that is expected of you until you go through the first-semester. Is this going to be like high school? I wonder how difficult the curriculum will be? Your syllabus is your BFF, keep it close at all times, and NEVER lose it.

  9. You keep hearing about the “Freshman 15” and you are more confused as each day goes by. Do Freshmen get 15 dollars? 15, what? What is it that we get? Then you slowly realize that the Freshman 15 is not what you thought it was and you feel a little sad.

  10. Your bring a small, minimal amount of snacks because well… meal plans have plenty of food right? WRONG. Trust me on this one, you are going to get SO TIRED of the same food you are offered every single day. You’re going to want to switch it up every once in a while. I thought the dining commons looked like heaven for the first week, after that it went downhill from there with my appetite.

This small list sheds a bit of light on some minor struggles we face on a daily basis as First-Generation students. Trust me, it goes WAY beyond that. If I wrote all of the struggles, I would basically be writing an entire novel. Okay, maybe 7 or 8 complete novels. You basically lefton your own to figure out your entire college education. AND you have the constant pressure of showing your parents that their sacrifices were worth it, you want to be the best to provide for them when you are older! Being First comes with many challenges, but many amazing accomplishments. YOU are first, YOU will lead the path in your family, and YOU did it all on your own. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, YOU deserve this and YOU did everything to earn it. Now, own up to your beautiful title and show them how First-Generation students GET IT DONE.

Maria Castaneda is a first-generation college student at San Jose State University. In her free time, she enjoys writing, studying, and listening to music. She puts God first in everything she does.
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