Student Services Made Me The First-Generation Student I Am Today

Curtiss Hall, Michele Wollert, and Kim Allin, / The Center / March 05, 2024

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First-generation students face many challenges when it comes to navigating the world of academia, juggling homework, scholarships, clubs, sports, and even jobs. This is enough to overwhelm any student, a first-generation student even more so. Our parents may try to help us but without experience they can only do so much, especially in our new world of technology and online classes.

I know this well, as I was homeschooled for my entire life before attending college in the 2023 fall semester. It has been a fun but very difficult transition for me. From the freedom to do my homework whenever and wherever to due dates and more projects than ever before. Staying level-headed and organized through the transition was a struggle for me. One thing that has helped me the most has been asking for help. At times, it can be embarrassing, but I’ve come to realize the staff at my school truly wants us students to succeed. Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) has nearly limitless resources for students to take advantage of.

CSCC students can reference the school’s staff directory to find the person they need for their unique problems. But when in doubt, students can always ask their success coach and they will point the student in the right direction. I’ve spoken to my success coach about financial aid issues and setting up my honors classes.

I have also learned the consequences of not asking for help. Most Tennessee college students will receive the Tennessee Promise scholarship. I believed I could graduate high school and get this scholarship without any help, but I failed to double check and do my research. Due to the month I graduated, I did not qualify for the scholarship. Even though my parents were helping me all the way through, we all failed to notice this one important piece.

Without the resources CSCC offers, I would not be the student I am today.

Now I take advantage of the resources CSCC offers for both finding scholarships and anything else with which I need help. Any student (first-generation or not) has the ability to take advantage of these same resources. One example is the student engagement coordinators; they know when all of the clubs meet and other campus events students can attend. Asking these people is how I got involved with clubs in my school and made more friends. I’ve also spoken to our job counselors at CSCC, where we discussed my resume and they helped me get my internship! Without the resources CSCC offers, I would not be the student I am today.

There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to asking for help; many people would rather answer your questions than watch you flounder and fail through your studies. College is hard on students academically and emotionally, and there is nothing wrong with asking for advice when you need it.

At the end of the day, Cleveland State Community College has been a great place for me to adjust to a school environment before attending a university. The people here are understanding of my unique situation and have helped me through any struggles I have faced. All I had to do was ask.

For more information on Cleveland State Community College's approach, please visit their website here.