Dear Latin/ AA student. If you are first generation to go to college you will do things a little differently than someone who has had a college-educated American parent. So I would like to point out some issues that affect the first generation.
I get that if you are not THE STAR athlete at your school, you may receive some attention to encourage you to go to college. I also understand that your guidance counselor is overwhelmed with the large numbers of students they each have on their rosters.
My pointers from the high school where I recently was on staff (as a health provider) include the following:
Try to engage your school counselor.
I know some of us try to avoid the counseling center as much as possible, but they need to know you, and you need their help for letters of recommendation (LOR’s),
your transcript (your school grades’ record),
Scholarship and grant deadlines
(In high school, I was a bit on the “shy” side, but I was one of the few students of color who was what they called, “gifted” at that time. I was placed in advanced and AP classes and was given a “gifted students’ counselor”. If I hadn’t been placed in that program, no one would have ever noticed me. So you need to advocate for yourself.)
Parent Involvement You tend to do everything by yourself and you involve your parents later, way later. Yes, “right now-right now” (from George Lopez). You need to involve them in baby steps. I know from experience that the first thing out of their mouths is, “How are you going to go to college??? We barely have enough to survive on now. Where are you going to get the money? No, you have to work.” I had to grab our parish priest to have him spell out the advantages.
Taxes You will need your parents’ financial information to fill out the **FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID/b.Yes, I know we tend to file on the day that taxes are due, but if you are in a State that requires your parents tax information early (like CalGrants in California), you may miss crucial funding! So keep on top of your parents taxes. Help them make and keep file folders of their tax information (W-2’s-which reports what they’ve made over the year at work and the taxes they’ve paid). Ask one of your favorite teachers if they will give you a file folder.
GRADES You have to keep up your grades! Your high school probably has a ton of students going out of their way to find extra-curricular (EC’s) activities-and the most popular one is tutoring. You should be able to sign up for tutoring through your teachers or through your counseling office. Don’t be intimidated! You wont be made to feel “stupid”, which is how my kids responded. You have to step out of your comfort zone and see how the “high-grade” students study and organize themselves. Keep your grades high!!
Learn to write a cohesive, succinct paragraph. A lot of colleges require essays. If you can’t write well, it will be difficult for you to convey a written message, but you can seek out the tutors.
When writing, Increase your vocabulary usage. Go on the web daily and look at the word of the day. (On July 31, 2020-on Dictionary.com, the term obfuscate means to make unclear or obscure. It comes from Latin which means, if you are a native speaker of Spanish, you should be able to define the relationship between “oscuro” to obfuscate).
There is a lot more, but we need your questions and input. Feel free to ask!