If you’ve read the “About” section on this blog you know that I myself am a first-generation and low-income college student.
A goal of mine for this blog is to focus on the experiences of other students on each post but this post will be an exception because as a change I will be talking about my experience. I will touch on several past posts and add how I personally relate to the topic.
Since a young age I talked about going to college. All of high school I took honors and Advanced Placement courses in order to challenge myself and become an above average college applicant. I was also very involved in extracurriculars. My dad would always ask me, “why do you do all of this? ” My answer always was, “because I enjoy it and I know that all of my hard work will pay off in the long run.”
When the time came to apply, I found guidance through faculty at my high school. Any
question that I had and any help that I needed on essays they were there to help. My parents in order to understand more attended informational meetings at my high school and I taught them about the process as I learned along the way. They supported my dreams of attending a four-year university.
My hard work paid off. I was accepted to 10 out of the 14 universities that I applied to. My decision of where to attend was influenced by where I desired to go and how much I got in financial aid. Originally, I wanted to go to an out-of-state university but seeing that that was not financially possible I re-routed my interests to an in-state university.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is that in-state university. I fell in love with it on one of my visits and financially it worked out. It gave me a complete financial aid package with not that huge amount of loans. If it weren’t for that I would not be able to attend.
I anxiously awaited to graduate high school and start my life as a student at Cal Poly. The application process was long and tedious but it was worth it because in the end my dream came true.
It’s one of those things that you think back on and realize how different your life would have been without it.
Summer Institute is a great resource for students with my same background. I went into my first year of college feeling confident and prepared. I had the best summer of my life thanks to SI. I became familiar with my new home and prepared for the life that I was about to start. I also gained a family.
I was able to get ahead on credits by taking courses that fulfilled general education requirements. I got to explore beautiful attractions of San Luis Obispo like it’s weekly Farmer’s Market and hiked to the “P” which was my first hiking experience. I made wonderful friends who I’ve kept in contact with and are my group of friends in college.
I was fortunate enough to get a free iPad! The week before going to SI, my parents and I were looking into buying an iPad for college seeing that it would be useful. But it was out of our price range. So we were going to figure out other options after I came back from SI. It was a great surprise when they informed us all that thanks to a donor we were all getting iPads. It has helped me a lot in classes.
I keep in regular contact with my EOP advisor who I had the chance of meeting at SI. Also with the program coordinators who are always available to help any of us “SIers”. It is really great to have a big support team at school. Especially when my parents aren’t able to understand what I’m going through it’s nice to have people to turn to who will. They are my family away from home.
SI helped me with the transition to college but the change was still felt. At first I did not feel the impact of being away from home. But once I did it was hard. I felt very homesick for about the last few weeks of my first quarter. At times I wondered if I made the right decision of leaving to school 200 miles away from home. They were my moments of weakness.
Every time I had a moment like that I had to remind myself of why I made that decision and why it is so worth it. I am getting the education my parents weren’t able to get. The one that I have always dreamed about. The good thing is that I’m only a three hour drive away so I can always go home and visit when I have the chance.