When I was growing up, kids got new clothes for two reasons – holidays or back-to-school. I remember paging through the JCPenney catalog to dream about the new clothes I would get for the year. It was an exciting time, and not just for the couple of new pairs of corduroys and blouses I would get, but because the new school year was a new opportunity.
As adults, we don’t get nearly as many fresh start opportunities. We drag our baggage with us from day to day and year to year, and I, for one, am envious of students beginning the new school year because of it.
But in reality, students have baggage, too. College Possible students, most of whom are first-generation college students, bring a lot of pressure with them to the new school year. I’ve heard our students say that they feel responsible for being the role model for their siblings when it comes to college degree attainment. I’ve heard them talk about how they want to earn a degree for their parents who have sacrificed a great deal for them. I’ve seen them walk anxiously through campus, wondering where they can find the students who look like them.
Such pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it gets compounded with all of the other things college students need to worry about – grades, making friends, choosing a major, scraping the money together to pay their final tuition bill – and it can give you a glimpse into the challenges a first-generation student faces.
That’s why College Possible Milwaukee is proud to host a screening of the documentary Unlikely, along with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Milwaukee Film. This excellent film gives viewers a glimpse into lives of students like ours, who struggle to complete college.
We hope you’ll join us for this free showing, and stay after for a panel discussion featuring one of the filmmakers, and students and community members who are working to make the path to a degree easier for first generation students. Tickets are free, but you must register to ensure a seat.
The beginning of the school year is certainly an exciting time. But even more exciting is the end of the year, when our college students cross the stage to accept their diplomas. Those new clothes, er, cap and gown, are truly a symbol of a great new beginning.
Edie Turnbull has served as the College Possible Milwaukee Executive Director since 2011.