Jason Lantzer's Story
My parents told me early on that they wanted more for me, and as such, I wanted more for myself.
—Jason Lantzer, PhD, Assistant Director, University Honors Program
I am the first in my family to go to college. And there was never any doubt in my parents' minds that that was exactly what I was going to do. I was told very early on that they wanted more for me, and as such, I wanted more for myself. And I should say that there isn't anything wrong or tragic in my background, or where I come from, it was just that my parents knew that there were more opportunities for people with college degrees.
And so, I applied to and eventually decided on Indiana University Bloomington. What that meant for me was going from a high school with less than 1000 students, and living in an area where everyone knew each other, to being part of a campus community that was well over 30,000. That was an adjustment even more than living in a traditional dorm room with a roommate! Moving four hours away from home was difficult—made more so by having to craft (in that first semester) a new routine—and coming to understand what being independent really meant. The chief advantage I had was that I recognized I was truly blazing my own path. On the one hand, that meant learning an awful lot on my own (sometimes, the hard way), but it also helped me mature in ways some of my peers did not. And on the other hand, what it meant most of all was that the education I got, the decisions I made—those were all mine. None of that is to say my parents weren't supportive, or I didn't have friends to fall back on, nor that I didn't seek help or ask questions, but it is to say that the feeling of accomplishment was real, and knowing that I'd tackled not just college, but also things like paying bills, working, and figuring out what I wanted to do next. And that feeling hasn't left me.
If there was one piece of advice I'd give first-generation students it would be: you can do this! Be open to asking questions and seeking help and advice from the faculty and staff. We are here to help and happy to do so, and many of us still remember what it was like being a new student ourselves!