Graphic by Abraham Navarro
Graphic by Abraham Navarro

I’m a first generation college student

"No one prepared me for the mundane things you have to go through in college."

By Mekiah Glynn

My mother dropped out of college after one semester and my oldest sister dropped out of two different colleges within the span of two years. I am the definition of a first-generation college student. A third of undergraduates are first-generation, yet we hear very little about the perspectives of these college students.

Luckily for the third of us here at Cal Poly Humboldt, there are a lot of resources for students who don’t have parents that know how to walk us through each step of college life. With mentors and workshops, Humboldt has helped me with the transition into college.

Moving eight hours away from my hometown to Humboldt was already a big transition for me, but it was significantly more difficult as a first-generation college student who didn’t have a lot of people to talk to about college. My mother has supported me throughout all of this as best she can. Still, no one prepared me for the mundane things you have to go through in college that most students just know about, such as which meal plan to pick, what you really need for classes, and how to manage your time.

Those questions were answered by my RAMP mentor for the most part, which was really helpful during the year, but less so before the year started, when I was signing up for classes, housing, and meal plans. During the summer before I started, the only resource available was my sister who is a communications major at UC Davis. She didn’t have much knowledge about a smaller college or classes for an environmental studies major. Because of this, my first semester was really rocky. I failed a class, edited my meal plan, and struggled with online college classes.

The workshops about organization, mental health, and finding a job were really helpful mid-way through my first semester. The school’s resources weren’t directed at first-generation college students, but they were still helpful.

Going into my second semester of college was a bit easier. I was more used to the day by day and was more aware of the resources that were available. It was still a struggle. I couldn’t ask my mom about things that I’m sure most of you could ask your parents without even thinking about it, such as questions about how to contact my professors or how to deal with a roommate.

Being a first-generation college student is hard. The pressure of wanting to succeed where your parents couldn’t and the need to figure out a lot of it completely by yourself will never be easy. There can always be more resources put into place that could help out the third of us that are here alone, but I do believe that Cal Poly Humboldt does a great job trying to help.

Make sure to check out the basic needs section on Cal Poly Humboldt’s official website if you need any help with mental health, housing, food, etc.

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