Eden C. Tullis is Campus Activities Coordinator for South Seattle College. She’s originally from a small town in southeast Kansas and a First-Generation college student. Her Bachelor of Arts is in English Literature is from Emporia State University, and in 2014, she finished her Masters of Education at Seattle University. She considers herself a social justice advocate and an advisor for equity and access. Eden’s biggest hobby is updating her personal blog, Life Scribbler. Her other hobbies include cooking, traveling back to Kansas, and watching Seattle sports.
So here it is up front: I’m a college advisor. And while you might be expecting some sort of pep talk, I genuinely write this from a place of understanding. In fact, I love my job since the student struggle is something I can relate to. Just years ago, I faced financial barriers and emotional ones of my own. I was barely passing Biology. Snubbed because I grew up in a “farm town.” From day one I had a job, but I’d look around my dorm building and notice I was one of the only ones. My new friends didn’t have jobs. It wasn’t something they had to do to get by. At least that’s what I perceived, and it made me bitter. I felt envious of their parents who could pay for their tuition. Even felt confused when I showed up and so many of them knew the secret language of college. They were “rushing” sororities and fraternities. Already involved in student government or jumping ahead to their core classes.
By the end of my sophomore year, I had finally found my rhythm and stride. I had studied abroad, and it kinda changed my whole world. I stepped it up after that and was involved in two different groups. That’s how I found my best friend. I also secured enough scholarships to cover the cost of junior year’s tuition. You wanna know my secret to thriving there though? I asked for help. A lot. And I had an awesome support system. My parents couldn’t afford the cost of tuition, but they did visit me a lot, and every time single time, without fail, they’d fill up my gas tank and buy me groceries. Then there was my other family.
TRIO Programs, or Student Support Services, is a nationally funded department on campuses across the nation for first-generation college students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. As the first person in my family to go to a four-year college, it was by accident that I even came to realize how much I needed TRIO. Being a student assistant for the office was first and foremost my job, but then my boss got to know me. She was a good boss and a good advisor that way—someone I definitely learned from. Knowing how much I cared about school, she and I had a conversation about my grade in Biology. On the verge of tears, I confessed to her how hard it was for me to understand science jargon and no matter how hard I studied, it’d result in a poor score on my quizzes. By the end of that meeting, my boss signed me up for a tutoring session. From then on out, I’d go on to take full advantage of the support offered at TRIO. I would need a few more tutors and attend every workshop on time management or career choices.
It seems funny now, looking back at that moment. That was my plea for help. My 18-year-old self just didn’t know how ask. I knew school didn’t come easy to me but I was a wicked perfectionist. My obsessive determination paid off in high school when I graduated with honors and was named Co-Valedictorian. Wouldn’t it be the same in college?
That’s the thing, though. Every stage of life gets just a tad bit harder, and we can’t be afraid to ask questions. Why do you think a person develops from the questions they put out there? Sure, asking for help is often seen as taboo, but without it, I wouldn’t be the college advisor I am today, pushing my students to think about the options, to reflect upon where they’ve come from and where they’re going.
Other tips on dealing with the freshman year of college