Jonathan's parents didn't go to college themselves, so they didn't feel they could advise him on where to begin. "I really didn't know much about the process." He was also concerned about how his family would pay for college.
But his parents placed a high value on education and encouraged him to attend college. "Throughout my life they would stress 'always put [education] first.'"
Jonathan's friends and extended family members provided him with information and support. His cousins, who'd already applied to college, "understood the college system and really helped."
Jonathan did a lot of work on his own, too. He didn't just take campus tours; he explored campuses independently to get a feel for each college. He also researched colleges online.
With the guidance and encouragement of his counselors and track coach, Jonathan decided that his college list should include some "reach" schools that he might not get into. He'd worked hard in high school and hoped his good grades and sports involvement would work in his favor. He was ecstatic when he was accepted to an Ivy League college — with a full scholarship.
With college classes, extracurricular commitments and a social life to juggle, Jonathan had to develop better habits quickly. As he puts it, "I've learned better time management through just being on my own and not having teachers harass me into going to class or handing homework in."
Jonathan experienced some culture shock when he first got to campus. But by joining Latino and Mexican student organizations, he found a place where he fit in. He made new friends and connections and even took on leadership roles.
He also found that his decision to attend a college close to home was a good one. His parents love that they can visit and cook for him, and he enjoys staying connected to his family and culture. Jonathan's even able to help his younger brother, who's considering the same college.