Do you remember the time…?

Not the song, but, do you remember when you decided you were going to go to college?

I was in a division wide professional development session today.  We had this great presenter talking with us about how the academic side of the house at IUPUI has been helping students to develop electronic personal development plans (a really cool thing that I will write much more about later).  At one point she encouraged us to think about when we made the decision to go to college.

I hardly remember this choice – mainly because I think I came from one of those backgrounds of privilege, where it was assumed that I would attend college.
I often find myself thinking hard about how to connect with some of the students around me who are first generation college students.  I make sure I am being purposeful in my interaction & encouraging these students to achieve the best possible things for them – (whatever that ideal concept of success is for them).  I also remind myself that these students are driven and on a mission – sometimes they might have lots of questions about how to get what they want – while other times they may have no questions & already have everything all figured out.
Either way, my job as a professional, is to connect with them on their level & encourage.

What about for you?  When did you decide to go to college? Do you remember the decision? How does that impact your work on a daily basis?

Please feel free to comment below! I would love to hear your story– then feel free to pass this post on to other folks who you’d like to encourage them to share!


7 responses to “Do you remember the time…?

  1. I can identify with you, Brian, about not having to think about college because it was assumed that I would go to college but I am a first generation college student. For as long as I can remember, my mother told me that I would go to college so I can get lead a better life than her.

    Knowing that my mother’s encouragement led me to college impacts my daily work because I have always associated education with a better life. I am in student affairs because I am an educator.

    I know that getting an education is not just academically focused – education needs to intertwine a students’ academic experiences with their “real life” experiences. I believe that education is the key to the best life. It is my mission to help students take advantage to the educational opportunities available to them in college. Great reflections/questions! Thanks!

  2. I think that is interesting thought. I’m like you, I don’t exactly remember the moment that I decided to go to college because it was always assumed that I would go to college. I don’t think that I realized how much this impacts my work on a daily basis until I started my practicum at Ivy Tech Community College. Coming from the majority class where it is assumed that one will go to college, it is at times difficult to take the perspective of a first generation student.
    We had a really interesting dialogue in one of my classes that discussed how first generation students perceive the collegiate environment and that really opened my eyes to the differences. The discussion basically stated this: 1st gen students look at things as relationships and see things as ideas and processes. In my work, I now try to remember that when dealing with all students. I guess I’ll see how effective this is as time goes on…

  3. Billy McAllister

    Brian, it was encouraging and exciting to read about your drive to connect with first-gen students. First off, I am a first generation student. My two older brothers chose a different path after high school and traveled the blue-collar road. One chose to be a machinist and the other chose to join an elevators union. The union worker has since been laid off and now works full-time at Target and now, like most union workers, is just waiting for the phone to ring and call him back to work.
    In regards to your first question, I didn’t decide to go to college until I was a senior in high school. Quite opposite of your approach, it was assumed that I wouldn’t go to college. I was also planning to do the blue collar route but eventually, I was like….wait! There aren’t any jobs for me right now. I better do this college thing everyone is talking about. And that’s exactly what it was, the thing everyone else was talking about. I dig into my memory and I can not come up with any memories of anyone in my household telling me to go to college. I’m not bitter about it but this is all for the sake of answering your question. My father, a car painter, and my mother, a Wal-mart associate, perceived college as something that rich kids did after high school. To them, college was unaffordable, unrealistic, and unattainable. My father was constantly laid off throughout my childhood and my mother works at Wal-Mart, so we all know the salary she’s given so talking about tuition payments, room and board, and books was never, ever brought up. I chose to attend IUPUI for two reasons: My girlfriend was planning on attending the University of Indianapolis, and I seen it as a chance to move out of my house. A goal of mine since I could remember.

    February of senior year came around and it was really decision makeing time at this point. While most kids my age were asleep in their bed, I was up filling out Sallie Mae loan applications, FAFSA, housing applications, scholarship applications, and finding back-up housing arrangements… myself. Do you know how amazingly difficult, frustrating, and testing a FAFSA application is for a senior in high school? Good heavens I’ll never forget that. It took me three nights after work to finish that dreadful task. Perhaps, it was stubbornness on my part for not asking for any help but what could my parents know about those applications in comparison to me? That’s probably the hardest part about being a first-gen student. So many questions with no mentoring from an individual with experience. I did, however, direct a lot of questions to my girlfriend’s mother. She was helpful and if it weren’t for her…I don’t know really. She kept me sane but she often called me out for being stubborn for not asking my parents. Haha. I don’t blame her.
    In my daily work/life, I don’t ever think about myself as a first-gen student nor do I use it as motivation. Personally, I have never taken that, “I want to do better than my parents…” mentality. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s never a thought. I’m in school right now because it’s the best choice for my future of course, but it’s also the best choice for me right now. If companies were hiring when I graduated high school, I would have became an apprentice and got straight to the money. That’s my story. I hope it was insightful.

  4. Pingback: When our students amaze us « brian p gallagher

  5. Brian,

    Love the question posed and wish more would comment. I almost didn’t go to college. I was pretty much first gen (sis went for a semester, dropped out, then went back later for 2 yr degree). My choice to go didn’t happen until April Vacation with a few e-mail back and forth with Admissions and a guidance counselor who was driven to make sure I got in somewhere so I had the option.

    At my current institution, there are so many first gen students that struggle not only with the cost but with navigating FASFAs, budgets, feeling like there is no one else to turn to and having to do it on their own. It is a great community to work in because everyone sees the need, we just are currently doing it all in silos instead of an organized effort. Something our division is going to focus on this summer as we rethink our mission/goals/purpose.

    In any case, how does it impact what I do every day? Well for one, if that guidance counselor wasn’t so dedicated to making sure I got one acceptance letter from a school, heck I have no idea where I’d be. I try to do the same, but moreso now than ever, with a budget-minded eye. Some students belong in college, others do not, and there is no fairness is telling them they have to be here to succeed and should put themselves in endless debt to make it happen. I hate to see students have to take a semester or a year off to save up to pay for the next year, but sometimes thats the best advice.

    Anyways, I need to stop rambling. Keep writing, it’s all good stuff!


  6. Billy-Be-Bloggin


    I think you were 100% correct when you said that not everyone belongs in college. Too often there is that constant pressure on kids about where they are going to college. Perhaps, the question that should be asked should be, “what where you doing after high school graduation?” Rather than, “What college are you going to?” We can all understand the importance of college, but if a student only has money for a semester here and there, it pretty much turns into more of a hassle than anything. College is a great learning experience and networking, but the list goes on and on of extremely successful individuals who did it without an education. Our desire to conform seems to always supersede our true desires.
    Thankfully, I successfully filled out my FAFSA forms, acquired some scholarships, and secured a great job as a Resident Assistant. It would be disrespectful of me not to accredit my father for the help he has been financially. Unforunatatly, very little, if any, interest and moral support in my studies is shown. The door goes both ways though.

    Joey I enjoyed your perspective and input. I also wish more people would comment.

  7. Billy-Be-Bloggin

    Correction: “What are you doing after high school graduation?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s