The closer a high school student is to senior year, the more they are asked what college do you want to go to? My mom didn’t make it to college and my dad attended a university for only one quarter. In my biological family, this pressure to achieve higher education was ingrained in me because out of all my siblings, I was the only one who cared about doing well in school. When I entered foster care, my education became the only thing I felt in control of
During senior year of high school, I tore a ligament which ruined my dream of playing soccer in college. I questioned going to college, informing people in my support network that I only wanted to attend a community college. Their responses were disapproving, explaining to me the importance of the university experience, making lifelong friends, and the enjoyment of campus involvement. Committing to a 4-year university was a big deal for me and after a lot of consideration I decided to attend Seattle Pacific University.
At high school graduation, approximately 70% of foster youth plan to go to college. However, only 2.5% of students who experienced foster care end up graduating college. That is the lowest success rate of any student population, according to the College Success Foundation. You would think being on track to someday be a part of that 2.5% would make me feel special but in reality, it made me realize just how lonely this journey is.
At Seattle Pacific University, I have worked hard to avoid loans and solely depend on the various scholarships that help cover the costs of college attendance. This makes day to day finances tight and the academic requirements of scholarship eligibility became a psychological burden — knowing I must maintain high grades to keep my scholarships. The total cost of attendance is roughly $56k, as of the 2018-2019 academic year. However, when I say attending this university is costly, it is more than money.
On campus, I feel as if I cannot relate to my peers. Last fall I dedicated my journalism project to all aspects of the campus’ diversity. Not only did most students identify as Caucasian, but over half of their households earned $75k or more a year. I feel like my peers cannot relate with any of my life experiences, such as lack of support, resources and poverty.
There also has been a disconnection from professors and school staff. The people that are supposed to support my education lack the understanding of where I am coming from to be able to do so. There have been many times I had to skip class to take care of other responsibilities that need more immediate attention. I don’t feel as if I can communicate with my professors because not only are their positions in my life temporary, but they also don’t understand that I am not a typical college student. My professors have not reached out to “throw me a life line.” Why are my professors, who should be supporting me throughout the course, not addressing struggling students? I think that is wrong. My professors should be aiding me if they see me struggling. Along the way of this solitary and rigorous journey, I still strive to be a part of the 2.5%.