Food for Thought for First Generation College Students (and Any College Student!)
I knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was about 16, but as a first generation college student I didn't quite know the steps. Here are some things, steps, state of mind's (is that even proper grammar?) that helped me succeed and reach my goal.
My story is one that you hear often. My parents came to U.S to make a better life for themselves, found each other and then one day - BAM I was born.
Growing up my father always worked more than one job, and with his red tired eyes he would always say "Mija, tienes que estudiar, no hay nada mas" - Honey, you have to get an education, there is nothing else. So in my mind, there was nothing else. I was determined to get an education.
I knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was about 16, but didn't quite know the steps. Here are some things, steps, state of mind's (is that even proper ?) that helped me succeed and reach my goal.
1. Be Determined and Stay that Way.
NUMBER ONE - ya gotta be determined, and stay. that.way.
It is the only way you will get the drive to finish. Nobody else is going to get this degree for you. My determination is what fueled my drive.
2. Be Malleable
When I took my first Biology test in my first semester in college I got a "D". A big, fat, dooming "D".
I went home and cried on my mom's bed while saying "I'm not meant to be a nurse! How can I pass all the other science classes if I can't even pass the prerequisite for the prerequisites!" But as you can guess, I didn't give up. Instead, I rose up to the challenge. I spent many days in the library studying. Or trying to study, since I didn't know how.
I started taking notes, using colored pens and highlighters, going over notes ect. I didn't just stay the same, since you need to do something different to get different results.
In order to succeed, you need to be malleable - able to be changed, be flexible to reach your goal, but never break.
3. Use your Resources
In high school I was recruited to be part of a program that took at risk teens and minorities around the hospital. They gave us internships, helped us with professional development and supported us. This program ended up really help me in not feeling alone. When I got into college, I found a different program and sought support.
Use your community resources ya'll. People do want you to succeed, but you need to have some initiative and seek out these resources. After all, a closed mouth cannot be fed.
4. Ask for Help
This one is straight forward. If you need help, ask for it. Tutoring, financial aid, mentoring - ask for it. It is okay to ask for help. I got tutored for several of my classes in college, no shame in that!
5. Keep your Support System Close.
Tacos. I love tacos, tacos make me happy, and my parents knew this. So one day, during finals week at 11:00pm, my dad brought me tacos, because he saw I was stressed. This is just one of the many examples that I have of my support system helping me to mentally survive. No matter how small the deed is, let them care for you, nurture you, uplift you.
It doesn't have to just be your family, it could be a mentor, a friend - somebody.
6. Keep Like Minded People around You.
I was fortunate enough that my best friend is also a nurse, and we were both studying to become nurses around the same time and would often study together. This was often the only socializing I had in nursing school. Before nursing school, I make friends in community college, and we would all study together and socialize together.
7. Realize Failure is Okay
I didn't actually fail any classes, but realizing that if I did fail and it was okay, was a big relief for me. There was a time that a professor was threatening to fail me in one of my clinical rotations (that's a story for a different time), and somebody I looked up to sat me down and let me know it was okay to fail. But if I did fail, to just get up and finish it. Just reach your goal! (but try not to fail of course)
I really wish I could come up with three more points because it is really bothering me I didn't get to ten, but that is all I have. I did it and you can do it too!
About Avill, BSN, RN
Avill, a child of immigrant parents and a first generation college student - graduated from nursing school in 2015. She now works as a school nurse and as a home health nurse.
Joined: Oct '11; Posts: 284; Likes: 282