Education has always been stressed as the most important thing you can obtain since I was a small child. After high school, the logical next step was to attend college whether you knew exactly what you were getting into or not. My family has remained supportive throughout the entire journey and the journey as the first child to attend college has been an interesting one to say the least. A lot of feelings have arisen but here’s what I’ve felt the strongest:
As an 18-year-old I thought the hardest part of college was getting accepted. It turns out that is one of the easier parts. The overwhelming pressure slowly rises when you realize that you must earn that degree at the end of the tunnel. It increases when you are the first member of your family to attend university and you don’t want to let them down. This was a positive pressure when it kept me focused and driven but it also caused a lot of low points. Most of the time I realized that it was the pressure I put on myself to be some sort of example but I thankfully made it through to the other side. This was one of the feelings I felt being the first child to attend college-pressure.
On the brighter side of things, being the “first” creates a sense of joy. Like when you win first place in a sports tournament or secure that blue ribbon at the science fair. Being the first to go to university leaves a lot to be followed for the next generation. You can show your nephews or cousins that higher education is possible and it makes the desire to reach your degree even stronger. It doesn’t take a dangerous expedition to become a pioneer and bringing light to education is something that should always be given attention.
Being the first child to attend college became a communal experience for my family. I would ask for their proofreading skills when revising poems and help running through flashcards the night before a test. My education became something we were all invested in. I could introduce different texts and schools of thought that my family may not have come by in their lifetime. It brought us together in a way that was unexpected but it is a bond that stands strong today.
A common thread that most parents seem to stand behind is the fact that they want their children to have more than they did. Even though my parents did not attend college, they remain the hardest working people I know. It would have been a huge disservice to them if I wasted the opportunity to expand my mind and reach this hypothetical more they are so set on. By carrying out their dreams, I have earned job positions I never imagined would come my way and it’s because they got me through college. Their support made reaching for more the only possibility.
One of my greatest accomplishments so far in life has been receiving my Undergraduate degree and having my family in the audience cheering me on as the first child to attend college. Despite being the first child to attend college, I was fortunate enough to bring an achievement home that we made happen as a unit. All the smiles and tears made me realize why this whole journey was worth it. It is because of these attributes that I am continuing my education as the first child to attend graduate school. Being in this unique situation has revealed to me that being the first can be scary but it is always worth it.
Whether you are the first child to attend college or the last, make your college journey a memorable one!
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Rebecca was born in Hayward, CA and still resides there today. She received her BA in English Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and is the first in her family to graduate from university. She is a Poetry student in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California and is furthering her involvement in the literary community. In her spare time, she likes to lose her voice at Giants games, read Young Adult novels, make lists, and aims to cross become a writer off it.