Blog: Leaving Home and Family. But are you really?

Univision.com | Aug 22, 2013 | 11:00 AM

By Fernando Espino

“Throughout high school, one of the most memorable commercials on Spanish programming was one from”
I am soon going to start my sophomore year at Harvard, with plans of majoring in Economics with possible minors in Psychology or Statistics. I hope to one day create my own business, so business school hopefully will also be in my future. But, honestly, I only seek to focus on the blessings I have today to be where I’m at and, more importantly, to help others in the same way I was assisted along my own path.
Throughout high school, one of the most memorable commercials on Spanish programming was one from Southwest Airlines, which ends with an older lady grabbing her young son by the ankles. As he struggles to walk away, presumably to travel wherever that he may be going, the mom pleads with him: “No te vayas mi pedacito de bombon!”. Literally: Don’t leave my small piece of marshmallow.
I always found it quite funny and cheesy, but my mother never did, especially as I was preparing my stuff to head out for college. My move-in day for college finally arrived, and, as expected, my mother became the Southwest commercial mother. Saying goodbye, as I stayed in Boston while they went back home, was tough. But, two years later, I can say that both my parents and I couldn’t be happier with the decision.
As I listen to upcoming high school Latinos and look back upon my own experiences, I recognized that one of the biggest reasons I hear deterring many promising Latinos from the prestigious colleges is the potential separation from family and home.
This concern goes both ways. It can be that we as young kids cannot stand to think of living away from mom’s cooking or our neighborhood or our younger siblings. At the same time, our family may not be willing to “let us go” and live away from home.
Unfortunately, that’s what happened in my case. While no one ever explicitly said so, I could tell that several family members judged my decision to pursue my college education away from home. In their eyes, I was being ungrateful in abandoning my parents to live on my own. I could not really blame them. We know that family is priority number 1,2, and 3 in our Latino cultures, so moving away is almost sacrilegious.
But, thus is the sad reality of attending elite academic institutions. Unless you live in areas called Palo Alto, Boston, New York, Chicago, or the like, you are far away from these schools. Going to these, for many of you, will mean that you will have to make that fateful decision to leave home.
But are you really leaving? And, is it really that bad to move away from your family?
If you want to stay close to your family, then that’s your personal choice. I’m here not to tell you that staying home is a bad option but rather to present to you that the alternative is a good choice too.
Bottom line, parents have to learn to let go. Easy for me to say, isn’t it, being a 20 year old college student myself? I did not say this, however. My own mother said this a couple of days ago. We must understand that our parents will not always be there to walk us through life, so college presents our first real opportunity to learn what we are made of, what it means to live as an adult.
You will also come to realize that understanding the value of our family goes much deeper than the daily face-to-face interaction. Being away from them for significant periods of time certainly helps you realize how much you really do love them, and that’s always nice.
What about travel expenses, you might ask?
Flying to and from college can be pricey, and there’s no denying that. However, I will say that, on the positive side, a significant percentage of financial aid packages, especially those at elite Ivy league colleges, will cover your travel expenses.
If you trying to convince your parents that its ok, show your parents this article. They can talk to my own parents, Hector and Dulce Espino, and get a first hand account of parenting. The bottom line is that, if you seek to do what’s best for your future, your parents will understand that, and they will be behind you as you pursue your dreams all the way through.
Funny enough, I write this as I’m flying back home to Milwaukee, WI to surprise my mother who believed that, after spending my summer at Harvard, I would just stay for the start of the academic year. Logistically, it would make sense, but really, I love my family. Going home is the better decision!

Summer Already???

Sometimes, while we are in the middle of our spring semester, with some of us about to or already on spring break, it’s hard to envision the end of the school year and, more importantly, the summer.
As a high school student, it is easy to forget, amidst all the excitement that we undoubtedly cultivate with the promised sight of freedom, that the summer is not a break. It is not a period which should be considered as a time where you should slouch all day. Instead, it is the best time, the best months of the year, to truly explore and do amazing and exciting things.
For Juniors and Seniors, especially, this doesn’t mean that you should do something during the summer simply because you think it would look good on a resume or a college application. There’s is nothing really wrong with trying to , as long what you are doing is something you want to do.
Bottom line: Do something this summer. But do something you love.
And this is the perfect time to start thinking about the summer. But how do you decide what to do? Well, here are a couple of pointers.
Think about what really excites you.
Search for summer programs at various colleges, universities, or high schools which cater to different academic interests, to different ethnic groups, or even different extracurricular.
This can range from debate camps, Soccer training camps, art programs, summer programs for Latino students, really anything and everything. These can take from a couple of days to upwards of two months.
Summer also doesn’t have to be all about school related work or activities.
Summer jobs are incredibly valuable experiences and opportunities. They are great ways to get pocket money, to obtain work experience, to help out a business, or learn more about a job. During my high school summers, I had various odd jobs, such as being an auto mechanic from my garage, or even an elementary school summer recreation program coordinator. These jobs can be self-employed in nature, they can be at local restaurants, at museums, libraries, really in many countless places.
For those of you more interested in getting a better taste of certain careers, internships are an amazing option. Whether they are paid or unpaid, these are great opportunities very valuable simply for the experience that you receive. Among friends of mine, several received positions to help out at hospitals or offices of their parents’ employers.
Of course, another option, for those of you who aren’t too concerned with the financial issues, is traveling. It is so incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to explore the various areas not only of the United States but of America, of Europe and other corners of the world.
Whether it is with a more academic purpose or purely for the joy of touring the beautiful and intriguing parts of our world, traveling brings and broadens a fresh, more cosmopolitan perspective upon life, while allowing you to more fully appreciate your home and where you grew up.
All that being said, can you have fun, hang out with friends, or just spend a day just watching movies? Of course, just don’t put yourself in a situation where, two months, two years after the fact, you look back on that summer and say: “Wow, I really didn’t do anything.”
It should go something like “Wow, I had a great time that summer!” And if you are worried about how this would look at a college applications, know this. Colleges will be more impressed, and more attracted to that person who spent their summer following their passions, however crazy and uncommon they may be, than by the person who simply did activities because he/she thought they should.
Is it summer already? Nope, but it’s never too early to start dreaming about how to spend some of the best, and most free months of your life.
Sometimes, while we are in the middle of our spring semester, with some of us about to or already on spring break, it’s hard to envision the end of the school year and, more importantly, the summer.
As a high school student, it is easy to forget, amidst all the excitement that we undoubtedly cultivate with the promised sight of freedom, that the summer is not a break. It is not a period which should be considered as a time where you should slouch all day. Instead, it is the best time, the best months of the year, to truly explore and do amazing and exciting things.
For Juniors and Seniors, especially, this doesn’t mean that you should do something during the summer simply because you think it would look good on a resume or a college application. There’s is nothing really wrong with trying to , as long what you are doing is something you want to do.
Bottom line: Do something this summer. But do something you love.
And this is the perfect time to start thinking about the summer. But how do you decide what to do? Well, here are a couple of pointers.
Think about what really excites you.
Search for summer programs at various colleges, universities, or high schools which cater to different academic interests, to different ethnic groups, or even different extracurricular.
This can range from debate camps, Soccer training camps, art programs, summer programs for Latino students, really anything and everything. These can take from a couple of days to upwards of two months.
Summer also doesn’t have to be all about school related work or activities.
Summer jobs are incredibly valuable experiences and opportunities. They are great ways to get pocket money, to obtain work experience, to help out a business, or learn more about a job. During my high school summers, I had various odd jobs, such as being an auto mechanic from my garage, or even an elementary school summer recreation program coordinator. These jobs can be self-employed in nature, they can be at local restaurants, at museums, libraries, really in many countless places.
For those of you more interested in getting a better taste of certain careers, internships are an amazing option. Whether they are paid or unpaid, these are great opportunities very valuable simply for the experience that you receive. Among friends of mine, several received positions to help out at hospitals or offices of their parents’ employers.
Of course, another option, for those of you who aren’t too concerned with the financial issues, is traveling. It is so incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to explore the various areas not only of the United States but of America, of Europe and other corners of the world.
Whether it is with a more academic purpose or purely for the joy of touring the beautiful and intriguing parts of our world, traveling brings and broadens a fresh, more cosmopolitan perspective upon life, while allowing you to more fully appreciate your home and where you grew up.
All that being said, can you have fun, hang out with friends, or just spend a day just watching movies? Of course, just don’t put yourself in a situation where, two months, two years after the fact, you look back on that summer and say: “Wow, I really didn’t do anything.”
It should go something like “Wow, I had a great time that summer!” And if you are worried about how this would look at a college applications, know this. Colleges will be more impressed, and more attracted to that person who spent their summer following their passions, however crazy and uncommon they may be, than by the person who simply did activities because he/she thought they should.
Is it summer already? Nope, but it’s never too early to start dreaming about how to spend some of the best, and most free months of your life.

The Keys to Modern College Admissions

 
Even with all the technological advances, social progress, and increased globalized nature of our world today, I still envy one thing about the past: their college admissions.
Even until a couple of decades ago, the entire process consisted of a single-sheet application, often just asking about identification information, with the possible requirement of an entrance exam. What’s more, this process was pretty much the same across the board, from community college to prestigious universities. One day was all you really needed.
Well, as we all now are aware, college admissions has become significantly more sophisticated. Navigating, or even what identifying the steps involved in,  the process can be daunting and downright confusing, particularly for a great majority of us, who know no one else who has gone through this before within our family, friends, and community.
And for those who aspire for even greater heights, admissions into Ivy League universities have become incredibly competitive. Understanding and figuring what can make you stand out among other great kids around the country and the world, what makes you special, is the key to receiving that acceptance letter.
Thankfully, I had the great joy of receiving one from my first choice school and the one I currently attend: Harvard.
It has been a dream come true, but I definitely don't want to be the last, which is why I'm here. I want to help others have that same pleasure of getting those letters.
Admission into any college, but in particular Ivy League schools, sounds out of reach for us Hispanics. So, for the next several weeks, I will hopefully try to shed some light on what applying to college, and applying to Ivy League-esque universities, really entails.
Hopefully, you’ll find that getting into these schools is highly achievable, regardless of immigration status, with the first step being the most important one: believing you want to go there and that you have what it takes to make it there. Talk to you all soon!
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