When Adriana found out she was pregnant freshman year of college she knew she was going to have to kick it into overdrive. As a first-generation college student, the pressure was already immense. Paired with the culture shock of being away from home for the first time along with the birth of her son, life forced her to get real about her needs as a student, “the transition of going [to university was hard], I came from a school in a low socio-economic area and they didn’t prepare me well enough for college,” she said. Like many of us who are embarking on an educational journey the real challenge isn’t going to class– more often than not it tends to be things like study skills, time management, overcoming imposter syndrome, and practicing self-care. “I did not feel prepared at all for the amount of rigorous self-studying I had to do,” Adriana said.
Her saving grace was finding the right support from both her family and her college, “I had a lot with the support of my family, they supported me from back home they would also bring me meals, they’d drive two hours to bring me meals that would make me feel comforted. On the academic side I reached out, now I had a child I needed to succeed for, it wasn’t just me on the line, now I had my son, so I did everything. I used all the resources on campus, office hours, even the wellness resources, therapy, and all the tutors.”
Now as a licensed therapist that specializes in counseling and trauma therapy for the Latinx Community, Adriana looks back on her undergraduate experience as something that set her up for future success, “Academically undergrad did prepare for the future. I just wouldn’t be here without my degree. Even though it was a struggle it was very much worth it because I wouldn’t have been able to get into a masters program. Even with just my bachelor’s degree, I wouldn’t have been able to work at children’s hospitals or the mental health nonprofit that I really really wanted to get into. It has just helped me level up in life.”
For readers who are wondering “ok, so how do I make college work for me?” Adriana had some great tips on how incoming students can better prepare themselves:
- Take advantage of resources: On Campus student resources are there to help students help themselves. MSMU offers tutoring and academic advisement that can help you get on track and feel good about taking your education into your own hands.
- Get familiar with your coping patterns: We tend to outgrow coping patterns with age and time. If you’re feeling run down Adriana suggests doing little things to make yourself feel taken care of. She suggests longer showers, exercise, an extra meal, and if life is already difficult therapy is always a great best option.
- Practice self-care: whether it means learning to say no, taking naps, taking time to wind down after a long day, using on-campus services, or virtual support groups, self-care looks different for everyone.
- Teaching your children to be independent: Starting school will not just be a big transition for you but for your whole family. Be realistic about the amount of time school will take for you to feel confident in your studies and prepare your children for it.
- Shedding toxic relationships: School starting might put pressure on other areas of your life, it’s best to make amends and let burdensome relationships go so that you may better spend your time on what matters most to you.