I alway knew that I would go to college. Whenever I talked to my parents about the future and what I wanted to do with my life, I knew that obtaining a college degree would be in the picture. My dad used to tell me stories from when he was young and how most of his friends, including himself, were able to find well-paying jobs right out of high school. Unfortunately, the times have changed, and it has become increasingly difficult to do this without a college degree. In a world where a college degree has essentially become the new high school diploma, it’s become more necessary for students wanting to improve their career opportunities and earn a larger income.
When I decided to attend Michigan State, my parents were initially wary of the cost, and experienced a little bit of sticker shock. Alex Long, a sophomore packaging major and first generation student, recalled that her parents weren’t so surprised by the price, but were rather confused as to how she would pay for it. “College was always an expectation,” Long said. “My father started saving as soon as I was born, and while they were financially aware, they had no idea how paying for college worked,” Long said. With both of our parents being from generations where many people didn’t go to college, they are just now learning about how the entire process works, now that their children are beginning to graduate from high school. “I basically did all of the research myself when it came to applying to schools, scholarships and filling out the FAFSA,” Long said. “I’m pretty much in charge of keeping payments up to date, and just give my parents the tax information.”
I’m in the same boat. My parents had never heard of FAFSA before, and because they were so busy balancing work, bills and raising my brother and I, I took on the responsibility of doing everything myself. I’ve always been extremely independent so I didn’t mind, but with my brother starting college in the fall, my dad has become much more knowledgeable about the entire process, and I’ve received fewer and fewer phone calls asking for help.
Even though my parents didn’t know much about college, they continue to be extremely supportive in so many other ways. From texting me “Go Green!” whenever our football team scores a touchdown to making me my favorite meals when I come home, it’s the little details that really make a difference. I think that they had always hoped I would go to college but had never pushed me one way or another. While the process was a little stressful and frustrating at times, the support from my parents makes it that much easier. They want me to take advantage of all the opportunities they didn’t have, and repeatedly tell me how proud they are of what I’m doing—always making sure to brag about me to our neighbors and relatives. While all of the stress and work can be a bit overwhelming at times, knowing that I’m making my parents proud makes everything worth it.
Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.
Samantha Fegan is a sophomore majoring in professional writing with additional majors in French and linguistics. When she’s not devouring a new book, she can be found out on a run, listening to music or planning her next adventure.