I knew higher education would be hard. And now, almost six years after starting college, my resources are being stretched thin. For first-generation college students like me, this is a common reality.

In 2018, I was eager to start my college career at California State University, Northridge. I didn’t know anyone there — or even anything about where the school was — when I applied. I just knew I wanted to leave my small agricultural town in Monterey County.

The day my family dropped me off, there was nothing out of the ordinary, except this time I wasn’t going back with them. They helped me bring all my stuff into the dorm room and set my space up. We then said our goodbyes, and my parents both handed me notes. The notes included advice and were full of encouragement mixed with some sadness, as my parents questioned if they had prepared me to be on my own.

As many first-generation students experience, this was also their first time being away from me.

My first few days living in the residence halls, I felt lost. I had no friends, my family was five hours away, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to study.

Eventually, though, I made a solid friend group, some of whom were also the first in their families to attend college; having people around with a similar experience gave me a sense of community.

At the dorms, we looked up to our resident adviser; but we were amazed that she was a fifth-year student who was going to have to complete a sixth year to graduate. At the time, six years seemed like such a long journey; I thought that could never be me.

Read the full article about first-generation college students by Randy Flores at EdSource.