FIRST GENERATION – You don’t know what you don’t know about college preparation resources

An award-winning feature-length documentary narrated by Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, FIRST GENERATION tells the story of four high school students – an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer, and the daughter of migrant field workers – who set out to break the cycle of poverty and bring hop to their families and communities by pursuing a college education.

Last week I showed up to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch a citywide screening of an award-winning documentary: FIRST GENERATION followed by Q & A with the directors, a student lender representative from Wells Fargo (sponsor) and one special member of the cast, Cecilia Lopez. Cecilia is the Mexican-American daughter of migrant field workers mentioned above.

Generation TX showed this documentary to community leaders, other school administrators and business leaders on Thursday and Friday evenings. More importantly over 1,300 high school seniors at three large high schools in San Antonio viewed this film within these two days. Plus, the high school screenings were also followed with a Q & A with the directors and Cecilia. They all were very open to share why this film is important to them and how our communities still need to work together to get the needed information to our students.  Plus, told behind the scene stories like how the directors met their major sponsor Lumina Foundation for Education via Twitter.

“The college admissions process is complicated, especially for students without family members who are college graduates – much like many of the students in our city,” said Mari Aguirre Rodriguez, Executive Director of Generation TX San Antonio. “That’s why we’re so excited to bring the FIRST GENERATION directors and one of the film’s students back to San Antonio.” Yes, this was the second time to come to San Antonio!

Wake up, gente! Our students need our help.  Aside from the personal connection that I felt with the students about the struggles of applying to college and not giving up on yourself (another post coming up), my key takeaway is this:

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”

If no one in your family or anyone very close to you has applied or attended college, how are you supposed to know what to do? Where do you apply? How do you pay for college? Yes, counselors can help but in low-income school districts, the resources are limited. The documentary stated that on average the ratio for student to college counselor is 800 to 1 in these districts. 800 to 1!

So where does a student start? BEGIN HERE:

TOP 5 THINGS You Can Do To Prepare For College –

#1 Challenge yourself. Consider classes that will giveyou college credit such as AP, Tech Prep or dual credit courses.

#2 Find a mentor. Seek out a knowledgeable adult to guide you through the college application process and help you discover your career passions.

#3 Prepare for tests. Study hard, keep your GPA high and take the PSAT, SAT and/or ACT for college applications and scholarships.

#4 Create a brag sheet. Organize all of your extracurricular activities, accomplishments, community service, awards and internships.

#5 Find ways to pay. To learn more about payment options, like loans, grants, and scholarships for college, visit

More College Preparation Resources

Generation TX San Antonio – This organization serves as a hub for community coordination of resources to prepare San Antonio students for college and careers. Visit or call 210-254-9376.

Wells Fargo – Visit the online community for students and families at and post your questions about preparing for college, college experiences and life after graduation. Additionally, sign up to receive college tips and tools from Wells Fargo, and be entered in the CollegeSTEPS Sweepstakes for a chance to win $1,000.

FIRST GENERATION – Watch the film! If it’s not coming to you soon, find a way to get it to your nearest high school. Upcoming showings are on their website. Visit the RESOURCES page while you are there and click on the link STUDENT RESOURCES Admission and Financial Aid.