Advice for Immigrant Children in the US Headed to College
On your way to college? Are you prepared? The road ahead is exciting, here are a few tips in this two-part series.
- Dream bigger than your parents, Most of our parents worked in the first job or sector that fell into their laps. They didn’t have too many options. As you go into college, you can achieve your dreams by working hard and believing your opportunities are not limited. Your parents did great considering the opportunities and challenges especially if they came into this country in their adult years. Dream Bigger, you certainly can make it.
- Student loan? Not so fast! So many loan offers will come your way. Select student loans carefully and if you must, select the federal loans over private loans. Student loans have to be paid back and don’t use them to fund partying or playing smart at the stock exchange.
- Apply for every scholarship you can find, take time to search and apply, apply and apply some more. Remember as a minority who is going to be successful in school, there is a scholarship lurking somewhere waiting to be uncovered. Keep applying and get as many as you can. Search online for scholarships available for women, minorities, STEM programs etc. Apps like Scholly can also provide some crucial leads.
- Work part time. This not only prepares you for the work environment but gives you much needed cash to fund your college dreams. Remember your utmost priority is to graduate. Reduce work hours if school grades suffer, take night/summer jobs, but please graduate, You don’t want to take a break and lose sight of this important achievement. Unless of course you have no choice, life sometimes happens.
- Plan wisely. As you select your major, don’t waste a lot of time, ensure each course you take contributes to your degree in some way. Understand required courses, electives, and align your coursework wisely. Remember college is not cheap, the faster you finish the better. So use your time wisely. Don’t be caught up in your second semester with no idea what major you want to graduate. To keep you at ease, most first years have no clue what they want to major in, we were all in that boat. However, unless you have a well-funded trust fund, time and cost is not on your side.
- Seek out mentors and love the art of asking questions. School counselors are not always available to answer questions at all times, but friends, former schoolmates, your parents and their set of business and personal networks can be great resources.
- Find a balance between passion and careers that pay. College is a great place for continued self-discovery, as you take certain courses, you may have a paradigm shift. However, if you find that what you love will not pay the bills, consider graduating in two majors, you are better off adding a semester or two to your time than making a mad rush only to realize that your passion area is over saturated without good returns. Take time to search online, websites like payscale.com can be great eye-openers. Don’t be caught unawares, be informed about job opportunities in your field and expected pay.
- Seek to develop an entrepreneur mindset. Take time to explore and answer the questions:-what if you would start a business? what would you sell? who would be your customer? how would you increase sales? Seek out courses and opportunities that would help you answer this questions.
Be a good steward of the resources, time, and opportunities God has entrusted you with. Remember, God holds success for the upright Proverbs 2: 7a
By Irene “Two Mile Street” | firstname.lastname@example.org