This blog originally appeared in the December ACAC newsletter.
November was National College Application Month, when many high school seniors are busy applying to college. In recognition of that, I spoke with current college students and recent college graduates to get their thoughts and best advice for the many students who are submitting college applications this fall.
What would they say to themselves if they could travel back in time to their senior year of high school? At the top of the list were reminders that college is for everyone who wants to attend and that there is help available when needed. They also wanted to remember to take chances and be open to new ideas.
“If I could go back in time and talk to my 12th grade self, I would remind myself that I am worthy of obtaining a college degree. I, like many students from the inner city of Chicago, struggled with navigating the college process. I assumed that my identities of being a Latinx migrant from Mexico whose low-income family had never gone to college would not allow me to get admitted into college, nor succeed within these institutions. College was always seen as unobtainable because it was so expensive. My 12th-grade-self did not understand how much financial assistance there is for students from low-income families, but looking back now I would remind myself that I am able to succeed regardless of the lack of resources I had. I am worthy of an education and 12th grade Laura did not see that. I hope you all see that you, too, are worthy of an amazing education.”
– Laura Edith Villagomez, Class of 2020, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
“I’d tell myself to ask for help when I needed it. Asking for help is something I’ve always been bad at, but it would’ve made the college process much less overwhelming.”
– Beth Groves, class of 2018, Greenville University (Illinois)
“Take the risk or lose the chance. You will never know all that you can and will achieve if you never take that first step.”
– Zenani Johnson, Class of 2020, University of West Florida
“Keep an open mind. Take a variety of courses and pursue the subjects you find interesting. Be sure to consider community college as it is a great option!”
– Anonymous, Class of 2020, San Joaquin Delta College & University of California at Berkeley
“Go out there more! Let people get to know you! Take chances! While your future college friends are your best friends, you will get more out of the experience if you go out more and participate in more social events to meet more people. I’m not saying party all the time, but invite friends to dinner, go to school events, and reach out to classmates more.”
– Erick Bernal, Class of 2021, Washington University in St Louis (Missouri)
“I wish I would have known that I didn’t have to know what I wanted to do when I entered college. I think the misconception that a lot of us have is that we have to know what we want to study right when we go to college, so a lot of us take a step back and think, ‘I’m not really ready to make that decision for the rest of my life.’ Starting college and just getting your foot in the door – you can do that without knowing what you want to graduate with or what you want to do for the rest of your life.”
– Claudia Davila, Class of 2013, Portland State University (Oregon)
Are you looking for more advice? Check this out from our ACAC state partner, Oregon Goes To College.