First-generation Americans are a special kind of gem. On one hand, you are American. Born and raised in America, you are well adjusted to the American culture and a lover of all things American. On the other hand, you couldn’t be any more different. Your ideologies, culture and morals act as a division between yourself and the kids whose parents were born here. And while you’re probably bilingual, your parents’ mindset probably kept you in the house a lot more than the other kids in school. You probably got made fun of during attendance because of your teacher’s inability to pronounce your traditional name. Dating was probably a federal crime in your household and attending parties in high school was absolutely out of the question.
Fast forward to college.
You’ve been reminded throughout your whole entire life that your parents immigrated here for you. They picked up their entire lives and moved to a completely new country for you. Because of this, you can’t screw up. They didn’t send you to college for beer pong and frat parties, they sent you to college to be the physical proof of their labor and sacrifice. That kind of pressure can get to you. Here are five struggles first-generation American college students experience while trying to please their parents.
1. Your major is chosen by your parents.
When it comes to college, your parents are going to want to control just about everything, especially what major you choose. There is no room for an artist in a typical foreign household, so graphic design, art and English are not suitable majors. Foreign parents want doctors, engineers and lawyers. They want the American dream with the American dream job and they are living vicariously through you.
If you want to break the mold, stand up to your parents. At the end of the day, your major is essentially your life. You don’t want your parents dictating to you how you should live it. Although there may be some growing pains as you stretch your wings or gain a little more independence, your parents will always love you and support you.
2. Your privacy is nonexistent.
Most colleges don’t allow anyone but the student to see their grades. However, foreign parents have no boundaries. They want to see your grades, track your every movement and even know your class schedule. Give them some information. While we’re totally in support of you holding your grades under lock and key, giving your parents other kinds of information is harmless. Parents just want to be involved. Give them a little information and it could actually be helpful for you in the long run. College is stressful, so talking to someone who isn’t in the college bubble can be a big help.
3. Your freedom can be your downfall.
Most first-gen kids don’t experience any real freedom until college. You’ve never been able to stay out late, you didn’t attend parties, you might’ve never had a sleepover before. College changes all of that. It becomes an endless oasis of freedom. You’re suddenly given the power to make decisions for yourself and while the first couple months of this power can be liberating, they can also be detrimental.
Remember to monitor yourself. Just because you can literally do anything now doesn’t mean you should. Like all students, you essentially entered college for one goal: to get that freakin’ degree. Don’t screw this up over keg stands and frat parties. Your future is far more important than that drunken night, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.
4. Anything less than an A+ equals death.
Your parents have always been strict when it comes to your grades. An A is not an accomplishment, it’s an expectation. They remind you time and time again what they have sacrificed to send you to college, there’s no room for any blemishes. That kind of pressure can literally kill you in college, so take it easy. While letting down your parents is something you would never want to do, you must remember that your mental health is far more important. Stay focused, study and do the best you can do.
5. Peer pressure is still real in college.
Your parents have instilled a different set of morals in you. You get to college and suddenly all of that is being challenged. Don’t let people influence you into doing things that you’re not comfortable with. You can have fun without compromising who you are. Remember where you came from, what you’re about and stay true to yourself.