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The Pressure Is On

The Generational Obligation of First Generation College Students


Continuing the legacy or following the steps of parents is a huge stressor, that can be said after looking at a recent survey. When 73 students were asked if they feel pressure going into college 76% of them said yes. The survey also reported that they feel that their parents expect their kids to be just as good or even better than they were in college. But what about the kids who are the first to go to college in their family? What footsteps should they follow?

Students in this situation report that they have to carry the weight of their whole family. According to Marquette Edu, these students have to go above and beyond to impress their parents and become a role model. They face societal and personal challenges that other students may not feel.

Graphics by Michelle Rosas

They are the first to ever go to college so no one in their family is there to guide them through their journey. They can’t relate to most of their peers because they don’t have the same struggles. The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds (TCCYHM) Center, says that first generation students also had to face challenges early on in life. They faced family conflicts, shame, difficulty navigating the academic system, and more social isolation. 54 of the students from the survey mentioned previously, had to / still go through these problems.

One of those 54 students, senior Rosemarie Ortriz, explained that she is not necessarily the first person to go to college. However, she is the first one in her family to plan on going to a four-year college, but she still faces the same dilemmas.

Ortiz reports that the pressure is on her, “It’s kind of those situations where your family kind of looks at you to take up opportunities that they’re giving you,” Otriz said. She says that in a lot of cases, parents want their kids to have the opportunities they couldn’t have. She says that sometimes parents don’t see that their kids are working towards those opportunities, but not everything works out for everyone. Though she also says that it may be that they think like that because they didn’t have those opportunities at the time and they didn’t feel that specific pressure. Or perhaps they have a “single track mind” where they want their kids to follow a certain path and only go down one road. Which leads students to more pressure because they are worried that they may not keep up with the goal that is set.

Rosemarie Otriz, 12

Like previously mentioned before, Ortiz mentions that her parents work very hard. She is very grateful for them and the new opportunities she has because of them.

Graphics by Michelle Rosas

“But sometimes it feels like they don’t understand or even try to understand the stress”,

said Otriz.

She takes a lot of advanced level classes and though parents say they understand the challenges that come with that, they don’t fully know. Becuase they haven’t been in their kid’s shoes. Sometimes the actions or words from parents can make it seem like they’re pressuring their kids more than they are supporting them.

The parents want to make themselves look better and they do that by using their kids. Otriz mentions that that gives her more pressure to always get good grades and only get better, which becomes a problem because sometimes kids get at the very top and they can’t go on because they’ve reached the limit.

Otriz says that she’s taken some of the hardest classes and has gotten the best scores on things but her parents still expect more from her.  Freshman, Emily Chen is a first generation college student and an only child. She mentions that she feels pressure from herself and her parents as well. Chen shares that she often catches herself prioritizing school instead of her mental health. However, she mentions that she balances this pressure with the goals she has set for herself. “I have a dream planned out and the first step is getting a good education,” she said. She says it’s important to finish her education because that will allow her to be successful. So even though she feels this pressure from herself, her peers, and her family, She will do what it takes to excel.

We must acknowledge and appreciate first generation students because they have a hidden “overwhelming” pressure following them around.

Emily Chen, 9
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About the Contributor
Michelle Rosas
Michelle Rosas, Carmesi Co-Director

Senior Michelle Rosas is in her third year of Crimson. She is taking on her first year as a Video/Carmesi director. She hopes to continue to shine a light on important and pressing issues and students' voices, as her last year in this program comes to an end. Before departing from this program, she hopes to inspire other students from different cultures to bring their culture to the program. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, drawing, going on long walks while listening to music, and being outside in nature.

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