by Paige Anderson

 Students often take their education for granted, every day they go to school everyday, and soon, they will go to college like their parents did before them. For other students, college is an uncharted path they chose for themselves.

44% of Healdsburg High students surveyed said that their parents did not graduate from a college, and some of them are going on to become the first person in their family to go to a university,

Although she warned against over generalizations about the reasons student chooses college, college career councilor Laurie Nimmo said that financial backgrounds could encourage a student to apply. Some first generation college students have “experienced the hardship of parents who struggle with low paying jobs,” which makes college seem more appealing. Education today advocates the fact that contining their schooling can bring more success.”

Although they face many of the same issues that any other senior would face, first generation students do not have all the support a student would have if their parents had attended a university.

“The challenge is they have to navigate [the college application] process alone,” said Nimmo. The process of applying is difficult for every student, but, Nimmo said, “take away the network of support and it makes the job that much more difficult.”

Healdsburg High senior Vianey Merlin agreed. She said if her parents had gone to college “they would have provided me with a lot of information that councilors, teachers, and advisors give.” Although her parents have been extremely supportive of her decision, they are not experienced with the college process. Instead Merlin turned to teachers and councilors to help her in the college process.

Merlin made her decision to attend college in 8th grade when she was accepted into the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound is a federally funded program that encourages low income, rural students to go to college, especially first generation college attendees like Merlin.

During her four years of high school, Merlin learned about scholarships, schools, and majors, and got some encouragement along the way. Merlin learned that “you can choose to do whatever you want.”

Merlin plans on attending the Santa Rosa Junior college, and transfering to Sonoma State. She wants to major in counciling, so she can help other students like herself. “I saw all the things that Upward Bound councilors did to help me,” she said. For Merlin, a career in counciling would be “a way to give back.” by