I am a first generation student – The Lumberjack

By Mekiah Glynn

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

Luckily for the third of us here at Cal Poly Humboldt, there are plenty of resources for students who don’t have parents who know how to guide us through every step of college life. With mentors and workshops, Humboldt helped me transition into college.

Moving eight hours from my home in Humboldt was already a big transition for me, but it was much more difficult as a first-generation student who didn’t have many people to talk to about college. My mom supported me through it all as best she could. Yet no one prepared me for the mundane things you have to go through in college that most students know, like which meal plan to choose, what you really need for classes, and how to manage your time.

These questions were mostly answered by my RAMP mentor, which was very helpful during the year, but less so before the start of the year when I was signing up for classes, housing, and meal plans. In the summer before I started, the only available resource was my sister who is a communications major at UC Davis. She didn’t know much about a small college or courses for an environmental studies major. For this reason, my first semester was really difficult. I failed a class, changed my meal plan, and struggled with online college classes.

The workshops on organization, mental health and job search were very useful to me in the middle of my first semester. The school’s resources weren’t aimed at first-generation students, but they were still helpful.

Getting into my second semester of college was a little easier. I was more used to the day-to-day and I was more aware of the resources available. It was still a struggle. I couldn’t ask my mom things that I’m sure most of you could ask your parents without even thinking about, like questions about how to contact my teachers or how to deal with a roommate.

Being a first-generation college student is tough. The pressure of wanting to succeed where your parents couldn’t and the need to figure out much of it on your own will never come easy. There may always be more resources put in place that could help the third of us who are alone here, but I believe Cal Poly Humboldt is doing a great job trying to help.

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

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