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As a first-generation college student, and a second-generation American, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I went to school. Where I grew up and when I grew up, it was anticipated that most of us would go to college. But I didn’t have a family framework that prepared me for the wonderful challenges and excitement that lay ahead.

As it turned out, going to college completely determined my professional life and, in many ways, my personal life as well. I grew up as a young man in college. I made friends for life. I learned so much about myself that I didn’t know and that I don’t think I would’ve found out had I not gone to school. I was exposed to people, to ways of thinking, to places around the globe that I had never experienced before. And all those things have added together to make me who I am.

If you are the first in your family to go to college, taking that step can be scary. But, from my firsthand experience, I would say to anyone thinking about it: Take the opportunity. By going to college, you will learn about ideas, about the world and about a set of professions in which you might be interested, all under the guidance of trained educators. You will do things, learn about others and learn about yourself in ways that will help you always. You will gain ways of thinking and applying your knowledge that will make you better at whatever you do. And no generation of your family will be the same again. That is all possible in college. So: Go.