Just five months after you graduated from high school, some of you might be feeling nervous about your college plans for the next year. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to start applying for college.
Here is my story.
Nothing scares me more than being in a new situation without knowing what to expect. Sometimes I prepare by doing research about this new place or bring someone with me on the trip to feel less alone. But even with the preparation, the process of entering college was very daunting for me.
I have lived most of my life in Las Vegas. It’s the place I call home. I remember playing soccer in elementary school and finding my passion for theater in middle school. And in high school, I really thrived as a leader. It wasn’t until my junior and senior years began, and my friends started making plans around the place that they I’m going to college, and it finally dawned on me that I might be transferring to school very soon, too.
The idea of moving to college was uncommon for me and my extended family. I grew up in a very close home and when I told my family I wished to move away from college, they were shocked at first! Do not denounce, but also do not fully understand. After all, my sisters were living at home while they were in college, so why can’t I? They didn’t understand my motivation or my thinking. Heck, I didn’t really know either! But for me, there was an inexplicable feeling that I had to do it. I probably felt the need to leave as well because my friends were going to school no doubt. Whatever the reason, I was a high school student and insisted I was leaving home soon – it was time to get out and try something new.
But being a first-generation college student, I had no idea how to navigate the college search process. To be honest, I did everything wrong as a potential student. I completed the University of Nevada, Reno admission application late (in March), filled out the Free Federal Student Aid application late, applied for on-campus housing late, missed the scholarship deadline, and many other little things. But at the end of the day, no matter how nervous I got, something inside me kept pushing me through the process and pulling me toward the University of Nevada, Reno.
Indeed, it was my English teacher, Mrs. Matterly, who finally convinced me that Nevada was the right college. She studied education while at the University of Nevada, Reno and talked about how well she did in college and met many wonderful people. She was the first person to give me an inside look at what my college experience could look like. I remember her eyes lighting up when she talked about the university as if she was reminiscing about those fond memories.
By the end of my spring semester of high school, I had also decided to start the University of Nevada, Reno.
I spent the summer making calls to admissions and financial aid offices, doing more research on what to bring to college, what new student events to attend and making payments. The stressful moments mingled with the feeling of sadness that my teens were left behind and a new chapter began.
Graduating from high school was a moment I will cherish forever. I graduated in a white dress on stage with all my best friends at the Thomas and Mack Event Center. Almost immediately after graduation, I received my roommate’s assignment, met with my advisor and even changed my classes. Every day I felt myself pulled in a different direction. North specifically. Far from the heat of Las Vegas and in the cool mountain air of Reno.
And then, just like that, the first day of school. After struggling to get a room on campus (because I applied for housing late and ended up waiting), I made it into the newest residence hall out of sheer luck and even got a great roommate from Las Vegas.
Before I knew it, my dad and I had been hauling a year’s worth of luggage to Reno in my brown Tacoma, stuffed to the brim with hangers, coats, and shiny IKEA products. We spent eight grueling hours driving through rural Nevada before finally arriving at the Nevada Living and Learning Community, where other excited students streamed in and out of buildings with boxes very similar to mine. My dad and I quickly unloaded the truck. Then he turns away at the same hour, but not before he bids me farewell with the quickest hug, so as not to prolong the moment when you leave me to adulthood.
And there you were, at the start of a new adventure. Just as I had hoped. I moved away from home and enrolled in an A-level university. That first night, I timidly wandered the halls, avoiding stares and keeping to myself. You can’t see it yet, but I was excited. I said to myself, “That’s what I wanted.” “It has just begun.”