First Gen

By Zipporah Osei

A newsletter about the highs and lows of the first generation college student experience.

A newsletter about the highs and lows of the first generation college student experience.

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18

issues

#18・

For first-gen teachers, the path of higher-ed leads back into the classroom

I’ve always said that if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a teacher. As someone who thinks a lot about education and my own personal journey through K-12 and higher education, I know that I owe a lot to the teachers and educators who were there along the way. At the…

 
#17・

I’ve been living in a student loan-free fantasy world, but all good things end.

For the better part of 18 months, I’ve been living in a student loan-free fantasy world and earlier this month reality came knocking in the form of an announcement from the Biden administration about the impending end to the extended freeze on federal student…

 
#16・

First Gen: The onscreen representation "In the Heights" actually got right

Like many of you reading this newsletter, I’ve been slowly reentering the world as lockdown restrictions lift in my city. Part of that reentry has been going back to the theater to finally see movies on the big screen again and one of my first viewings was a …

 
#15・

The class of 2020 wants to redo its grab-and-go graduation

It’s been a year since I would’ve walked the stage at my college graduation ceremony. A lot has happened in that year including starting new jobs, moving, surviving a pandemic, etc. So much so that for a while I stopped thinking too much about that would-be c…

 
#14・

'Scary feelings about money': Talking finances and scarcity with First Gen Living

I’ve been working pretty consistently for the better part of a decade but for most of that time, I wasn’t making nearly enough money to give my finances any real thought. As long as I had enough to cover my phone bill, books for school, and the occasional eve…

 
#13・

The triumphant return of First Gen

Hello all! Welcome back to First Gen, a newsletter about the highs and lows of the first-generation college student experience. This newsletter marks the official return of First Gen and I’m very excited to be back.It’s been a minute since I was in your inbox…

 
#12・

I get by with a little help from my mentors

I decided I was going to be a writer when my sixth grade English teacher told me I was good at writing. She encouraged me to write daily and often recommended books she thought would inspire creativity in me. I discovered pretty quickly from there that I love…

 
#11・

Graduate school and the allure of being a lifelong student

I’ve only been away from college for a couple of months and I’m already thinking about going back. I don’t know if it’s the uncertainty of our current moment or getting my first real taste of professional life, but in the past couple weeks graduate school, an…

 
#10・

We've all got student loan debt. So let's talk about it.

I have $23,316.51 in student loan debt. All federal and, thankfully, still in the grace period. The good about my situation is that I’ve borrowed less than the average American student and successfully avoided predatory lenders like Sallie Mae. The bad is tha…

 
#9・

Feeling worlds away from your parents as a first-gen grad

Earlier this week, I started my post-grad fellowship at ProPublica. An hour before I logged on for my first day, I got a call from my mom who was calling to wish me luck and give me the same advice on professionalism she’s given me since I got my first job at…

 
#8・

Wake me up when this pandemic-induced recession ends

One of my biggest fears throughout college was the possibility of graduating into a recession. I was only in middle school at the height of the last economic downturn, but even as a sixth grader I couldn’t ignore its impact. It was on the TV, both in the even…

 
#7・

Happy fauxmencement to the Class of COVID-19

Last week I took a break from my quarantine schedule of watching five straight hours of Bon Appétit videos to graduate from college. I wasn’t wearing a cap and gown or the custom Ghanaian dress my mom had made for me to wear while I walked across the stage. T…

 
#6・

Visions of a post-COVID higher education utopia

Now that we’re wrapping up week seven (eight? Hundred?) of this new world order, I’m starting to get really tired of depressing news. I’m tired of hearing about the growing death count, of thinking about all we’ll lose when this is over, and tired especially …

 
#5・

First-gen high school students feel robbed, and they've got every right to

This time four years ago, I'd gotten all my college acceptances, and was weighing my options on where to place my enrollment deposit. My concerns about financial aid and entering adulthood were not unlike the concerns most students at that stage. I certainly …

 
#4・

What do first-gen students want in this time? Our money.

For over a week now, I’ve been social distancing in my apartment and stuck in an endless cycle of Zoom meetings. I get email after email from my university with updates on their response to coronavirus, and how it’s impacting everything from campus security t…

 
#3・

First gen in the time of coronavirus

On Wednesday, I got an email from my university that classes would be moving online as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19. The email felt inevitable. Classes had started up again on Monday after spring break, but rumors had been flying that online in…

 
#2・

Why college is a scam

It seems like all college students — no matter their background, institution, or postgraduate goals — know one thing to be true: College is a scam. The phrase is one that everyone’s heard at least a dozen times by the end of their first semester. We say it wh…

 
#1・

Some changes are coming to First Gen

Hello everyone and welcome to the updated First Gen newsletter!Starting this week, First Gen is becoming part of the family of Open Campus newsletters. And after this Friday's newsletter, I'll be publishing every other Friday instead of every week.Open Campus…