Meet Gabriela

I’ve never met anybody who’s judged me.

Grades

“I’ve never met anybody who’s judged me.”

When I was a junior, I was expelled.

Grades

“When I was a junior, I was expelled.”

I didn't know what I wanted to do.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I didn't know what I wanted to do.”

I don’t really put myself out there a lot.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I don’t really put myself out there a lot.”

I’m proud to say that I’m doing very well.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I’m very proud to say that I’m doing very well.”

I went to school for practically nothing.

Cost

“I went to school for practically nothing.”

Money is out there to help you—just look.

Cost

“Money is out there to help you—just look.”

It was stressful but rewarding in the end.

Cost

“It was stressful but rewarding in the end.”

I wanted to be a teacher.

Cost

“I wanted to be a teacher.”

I just assumed I wasn’t going to go.

Cost

“I just assumed I wasn’t going to go.”

It hits you at once.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“It hits you at once.”

I wasn’t sure what to do.

Cost

“I wasn’t sure what to do.”

Everything was in fine print.

Cost

“Everything was in fine print.”

I was a quiet freshman but now I'm outgoing.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I was a quiet freshman but now I'm outgoing.”

I had to deal with a lot all at once.

Responsibilities

“I had to deal with a lot all at once.”

I stayed close to home so my parents could visit.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I stayed close to home so my parents could visit.”

It pretty much gave me a full ride.

Cost

“It pretty much gave me a full ride.”

People are willing to help if you ask them.

Cost

“People are willing to help if you ask them.”

I was intimidated since I was undocumented.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I was intimidated since I was undocumented.”

My father did not want to help me.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“My father did not want to help me.”

I have a good chance of becoming more stable.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I have a good chance of becoming more stable.”

Leaving the reservation is a huge step.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“Leaving the reservation is a huge step.”

Meet Gabriela

 

I was intimidated since I was undocumented.
Gabriela educated her mother about financial resources available to undocumented students.
I was intimidated since I was undocumented. (00:54)
Gabriela educated her mother about financial resources available to undocumented students.
I was intimidated since I was undocumented.
Now Playing
I didn’t know who to talk to about college. (00:28)
Gabriela’s undocumented status was a challenge she overcame to get to college.
I didn’t know who to talk to about college.
Now Playing
I got extra help from my professor. (01:07)
Gabriela discusses her favorite professor, who challenged her in unexpected ways.
I got extra help from my professor.
Now Playing

Snapshot

Year in college
Junior
Major
Biochemistry
Family income
Under $20,000
College path
Two-year college to private four-year college
Favorite movie
Pan’s Labyrinth
Favorite book
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Favorite actor
Ian McKellen
Describes herself as
Hardworking, outgoing and spiritual
College was very important to Gabriela and her family, but she worried that her status as an undocumented student would keep her from going.
Her obstacle 

Gabriela loved school and earned high grades, but as an undocumented student, she didn’t know if college was a possibility. Her family was supportive, but they were unfamiliar with the admission process and how to finance her education. They wondered how they could afford college — especially after Gabriela discovered that in her state, undocumented students have to pay out-of-state tuition at public colleges.

How she overcame it 

Because Gabriela was facing out-of-state tuition costs, she decided that a local two-year college was the right place to begin her education. She was lucky enough to have a high school counselor she describes as a “total whiz about colleges all over the United States.” That counselor recommended a community college in the area with an honors program that offered scholarships to accepted students. Gabriela discovered that it's often easier for undocumented students to get into and receive financial support from private colleges. So she decided that after earning an associate degree at her two-year college, she would transfer to a private four-year college.

Life at college 

Gabriela loved that her community college had small classes and she could get one-on-one feedback from professors. Her favorite professor taught English and helped her improve her writing skills. He was very patient," she said. “I would visit his classroom … every day, just to keep asking him about the same assignment … I came out of the class knowing so much more about essay writing, about everything. Gabriela was accepted at a private four-year college that awarded her enough scholarship money to cover about half her costs. To help make the transition to a new school farther from home, Gabriela found on-campus resources and a support network of students who shared similar experiences. She is studying biochemistry, hoping to attend graduate school and then pursue a career as a teacher or researcher. And though the college planning process was overwhelming at times, she says it was worth it. I have definitely been very happy with my college experience. It has been rough but very fun and rewarding. These are wonderful memories I will always have.

Freak-out moment? Take control.

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Break It Down

Think of the college application process as just a lot of little jobs spread out over a long period of time.

Make a To-Do List Daily

Put things that are most important at the top and do them first.

Be A Taskmaster

Set up a time budget and plan your activities accordingly. Figure out how much free time you have each week before adding any commitments.

Just Do It!

Wasting an entire evening worrying about something you’re supposed to be doing isn’t productive, and can increase your stress.

More tips: Time Management Tips for Students

If you're like Gabriela

Take a next step

Get started with these ideas.