Date of this Version
Published by Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center, September 2021
As you begin to read this pamphlet, you might ask, “Why should I listen to this person?” “What experiences has she had, or what expertise does she hold that makes her advice credible or worth my time and attention?” Well, given how busy we all are these days and knowing about all the advice out there about going to college, I see your point! However, I hope you find this piece a bit different from other resources. See, I approached the writing here in some ways as a consejo (a piece of advice) to my younger self. More specifically, I wanted to write something that would have been useful to me as a young Latina living in the rural Midwest and as a future first-generation college student nearing the end of my four years of high school.
I wrote it in hopes that other youth of Color on the verge of new opportunities and exciting transitions could hear my words and see themselves reflected in the text. I wrote it hoping that parents and guardians might read it and have reason to pause, imagine, and better understand the future adventures, challenges, and opportunities that their loved one is about to embark on. I also wrote hoping that student mentors, school guidance counselors, and community college and university advisors might read it and see it as a potential window of insight into understanding their current and future Students of Color (SOCs).
Furthermore, I wrote it based not only in my own personal experiences navigating through post-secondary education as a minoritized and first-generation college student but also based in my experiences as a teacher for, and researcher of, first-generation college students and SOCs. Over the past 20+ years I have coordinated and implemented public, community, and college-based programming designed to increase access and equity for SOCs as they traverse through and across educational institutions (high school, community college, and university). Among other things, that means this advice is “research-based,” although I intentionally do not use a ‘researcher voice’ in my advice to students. I have also learned a lot from various collaborators and mentors. So of course what I have learned and share here I have not learned alone. My own successes and failures as a student, an educator, a mentor, and a leader have taught me a great deal that you might not find written down in a typical “how-to” manual. I am sharing some candid insights here. And though certainly not an exhaustive list of the many things one might need to keep in mind or be responsive to in support of SOCs’ transition into college and beyond, I hope you find my advice compelling and useful.