First Generation College Students: Making that Life-Changing Decision to Go to School

When considering your future, it may seem daunting. Whether you’re deciding on a career path, a place to live or whether to go to college, all of these decisions take careful thought and consideration.

If you’re right out of high school, college may seem like the next step for many, but you may wonder if it is right for you. What if nobody else in your family has gone to college? How will you boldly step out and make a new path for yourself?

Or maybe you already have a job and have been in it for many years, but feel a college education will take you to that next level; however, again, you’re the first in your family to make that decision and you’re not sure it’s the right one?

Know that you’re not alone.

Even today, there are thousands and thousands of first generation college students who have made the courageous decision to better their lives and take that next step to earn an education further than a high school diploma.

As outlined in a blog post titled College Investment: Going Beyond the Degree, there are many benefits to earning a degree in college. Whether you choose to earn a certificate, or an associate or bachelor’s degree, many other first generation college students have been in your same footsteps.

“My last conversation I had with my dad before he died was about going to college,” said Katrina Kizer, a Rasmussen College medical assisting graduate and current health information management student. “After he died, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I thought, I can do this, I can go further. After graduating with my associate degree, I decided to continue my education and go for a bachelor’s degree in healthcare information management. I thought, why stop now?”

Kizer was the first in her family to go to college. She is one of five children, and only has one younger sibling. Her parents worked right after high school and never obtained a degree, and her siblings all have GEDs.

You may wonder how she made the decision to go to college. Kizer says, “I just always had the drive.”

Kizer decided to go to Rasmussen College nine years after graduating from high school. She had attended other colleges within those nine years but never followed through to graduation.

Kizer said it was different with Rasmussen College because of the support system. She said her program manager checked in with her frequently, making sure she was completing everything she needed to, as well as offering the advice and support she needed throughout each quarter.

In addition to her program manager, Kizer said, “The teachers were very hands-on, and they get to know you as an individual and understand all of your needs.”

Current Rasmussen College student Sandra Nwana’s opinion mirrors that of Kizer’s.

“The best part about this school is the Personal Support Center,” she said. “Have you ever been stranded and feel like the world is crashing down on you and you don’t know what to do or where to go? Just call the Personal Support Center and they will help to solve your problems. I mean, they can dry away your tears.”

Nwana is from West Africa and moved to the United States in 2009; she then enrolled as a sophomore in high school. Once she graduated high school, she wanted to attend college, and would be the first in her family to make that step. She researched several different schools, and finally decided to attend Rasmussen College. Nwana is now studying to become a pharmacy technician and hopes to further her education and become a pharmacist one day.

Nwana said her college experience has been amazing, and the support is unparalleled.

“I am enjoying my stay at this school. [Rasmussen College] is like home because you get help from anyone you meet,” Nwana said. “They also have great opportunities [to help with your future] like providing mock job interviews and preparation, and help for resumes, job search and scholarships.”

Both Kizer and Nwana are happy because of their hard work and dedication, and Kizer’s especially ecstatic about how she has impacted another person’s life.

“My little brother is now considering going into college,” Kizer said. “He’s seen how much I enjoyed it, and my family has seen how dedicated I was.”

“If I know of anyone who is planning on going back to school, I will [share my story],” Nwana said. “I have met a lot of motivating people in this school, and I believe I have a bright future ahead after Rasmussen College.”

And lastly, Kizer offered one piece of advice to other first generation college students. “Go for it. It’s scary but when you put forth that effort the outcome is worth every minute of it.”

About the author

Jennifer Pfeffer

Jennifer is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She is passionate about learning and higher education and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.

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