Life as a first-generation college student: A walk in my shoes

November 09, 2021 · 2 min read · By Selene Gonzalez
ASU Online student and brand ambassador Selene shares her experiences with becoming a first-generation college student. 

My story as a first-generation student begins long before ASU Online was a thought in my mind. Enrolling at a university was already a huge achievement for me because I had many struggles early on.

Not only am I a first-generation college student, but neither of my parents nor anyone before them finished high school. I feel that ASU Online provided me with the tools to form relationships with other students who have similar academic and family backgrounds.


ASU Online student support: From application and beyond

I'm glad I was able to ask a lot of questions during my initial application process because I had no idea how to be successful in the classroom while juggling my everyday life. I couldn’t ask my family for tips because they've not been in college, so I relied on my success coaches, peers at work and other students.

It was not all a struggle, though. I did have scholarship opportunities that were specifically for first-generation students, and I recommend that anyone who can take advantage of these opportunities to do so.

The importance of a college education

Since I'm a first-generation student, I feel I studied harder than others because I knew I couldn't throw away this opportunity. No one in my family before me got to experience what I do, so it’s worth more than gold to me. At the same time, I also knew mom would brag to friends and family about my academic accomplishments, and I knew I couldn’t let her down if I didn’t finish my journey and graduate.

Being Latinx, I also felt a strong sense of doing this for my culture, heritage and people who don't have this opportunity, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, where I was born and raised until I was 7. My mother and I immigrated to California because she wanted me to get a chance at a better education that would allow me to do what I wanted in life and not what everyone else did to get by.

It’s very important we follow our dreams and finish our degrees because no one will be able to do this for us. For me, I knew that if I didn’t take it, I would never return to it.

Being part of the ASU community has been really important to me.

Learn more about ASU Online's suite of student support services.

No one before me got to experience what I do, so it’s worth more than gold to me.

7 things to know before starting college as a first-generation student

Are you the first in your family to come to college? Get tips for success and learn about support services offered by ASU Online. 


About the author

Selene Gonzalez is a brand ambassador and student in the Bachelor of Arts in Spanish online program.

We're so excited to share Selene’s story! Selene is a part of our #learnASUlive team, an ASU Online brand ambassador program highlighting students who are earning their degrees while living their lives to the fullest. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check back for new articles from Lauren so that you can follow along with her journey. To check out all her posts to date, visit Selene’s Instagram!

Want to hear from our other ambassadors, too? Use the #learnASUlive hashtag across your favorite social channels to browse through them!

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