Julionna Ledbetter 

English 1102- 200- Weaver 

Reflection Paper


Coming from a small private Christian school in Lilburn, GA, with less than 500 students in the high school, I always believed that the way people saw me or thought of me was all that mattered. This is ironic because, at a Christian school, one is constantly taught that the only opinion that mattered was God’s. As I look back at these four months and reflect on my academic self during the span of this course, I realized that even though I’m doing school online, behind a screen, miles away from anyone else, I continued the same trend of only showing people the best rather than the truth. So in this reflection, I would like to reintroduce my academic self and values as well as explain how this year has truly changed me as a person and writer. 

For the Major 1 project, I told my partner that I was passionate, flexible, and productive. Those aren’t awful responses and if you knew me, you would say those weren’t bad answers to define me. Sure I’m passionate about learning, and I can be flexible sometimes, and I have moments when I’m productive with my school work. The problem is, four months ago I never made an effort to discover what my academic self was like, I simply looked for the most obvious put-together answers. However, throughout the course, I was able to dive deeper into my academic self. Therefore, three words that genuinely describe my AS would be procrastination, dedication, and perseverance. 

I am a huge procrastinator, especially when it comes to writing. I don’t have troubles in any other aspect of academics but when I have to write a paper I try my hardest to push it off. I had come to terms with the fact that writing wasn’t my thing and I just wasn’t a good writer. The one thing that brought me out of this mindset was the class reading “Some People are Just Born Good Writers “ by Jill Parrott. In her essay about bad ideas about writing, she pushed against the idea of “good writers”, stating that “good writers are not born. They are learned” (Jill Parrott, 74). Her essay identified many of my wrong ideas about writing, particularly the fact that I don’t like messing up and I prefer getting things done the first time rather than trying again. This essay taught me that in order to learn while writing, one must make multiple mistakes and reflect on them. In reality, writers don’t get things right the first time, and having to redo drafts is perfectly normal.       

Dedication and perseverance are also accurate descriptors of my year. At this point in my academics I feel burnt out and the motivation that once was so vivid is slowly dying out. Despite all of my emotions towards the school I have stayed dedicated to my studies and persevered when I wanted to give up. This speaks volumes to my character but also to life. What once gave me joy could, in a blink of an eye, cause me emptiness. Through this, I have discovered the importance of my “why” over the “what” in academics. “What” I am doing school for is simple. I do it for a degree, to hopefully get a lot of money in the future, and make my family proud. Everyone has a “what” but it’s difficult for people to conjure up a “why”. Why do you endure four more years of higher ed after just completing high school? Why are you going to college when you could just make money like your other friends? The “what” will cause you to get burnt out and to lose your purpose but the “why” will sustain you for the whole race. This semester I have been trying to evaluate my why to academics and why I stay even though many days I don’t want to. I pursue higher education because I desire to connect with people from various backgrounds, perspectives, beliefs, and thought processes. This is essential for me because ever since this point, my life has been one-sided and I hope by going to college and pursuing a major I will learn to love and care for people that are utterly different from me. That is my why, it may seem odd to some people but it is rooted in who I am. It may change in the future but for now, this is my motivation. I hope whoever else reads this is encouraged to discover their own why.             


Source cited: 

Parrott , Jill. “Some People Are Just Born Good Writers.” Bad Ideas About Writing , 2017, 

Should Colleges Provide More Resources for First Generation Student?

By definition, first-generation students are the first in their families to attend college. This means that their parents neither attended college nor received a college degree. In 2010 alone, there were almost 4.5 million first-gen students enrolled in universities across America, and now, there are approximately 11.2 million first-gen students enrolled in college (Schelbe, 2019). Although first-gen students make up more than fifty percent of college students, they are 8.5 times more likely to drop out during their first four years due to the feeling of isolation and a lack of support (Schelbe, 2019). Demonstrating that getting into college is not the only struggle for first gens but staying in is the real challenge. With that being said, should colleges provide more resources to first-gen students apart from scholarships and loans, to help them better succeed? Or are student loans and scholarships enough? Keep in mind the class reading during this course such as “Taking My Parents to College” by Jennine Capo and “I’m Was a Low-Income College Student. College Weren’t the Hard Part” by Anthony Abraham Jack. This topic is important to discuss because first-gen students make up at least half of the population of every given campus yet they are the most at risk of dropping out. This needs to change and it starts here with us.

When first-generation students make the transition from high school to higher education, they are instantly at a disadvantage compared to their peers. For instance, first-gen students have a greater need for money. The author of “Supporting First-Generation Students”, Alecea Standlee, explains in her article that the difficulties of first-gen students are much greater because they work considerable hours to provide money not only for themselves but to support their families. On top of job dedications, first-gen students commonly have significant responsibilities when it comes to their families and remains deeply connected to problems happening at home despite being at college. With this mixture of employment and family commitments, first-generation students are at academic risk before their first month at school. Yet these are not the only challenges that get in the way of first generational success. First gens have neither experience nor exposure to college life, consequently, they have no clue of their new role as a college student and are completely unaware of college norms. For many first-gen students, college becomes an awful guessing game that one hopes to get right in the end. Ultimately, first-gen students need more than scholarships and loans to succeed in college. In reality, they need social support, academic preparation, and connections to adequate resources to make it through the full four years. According to, “First Generation College Students’ Perceptions of an Academic Retention Program”, by Lisa Schelbe, “they (first-gen students) lack familial history or knowledge on which they can draw for support as they move through college” (Schelbe, 2019). In this quote, Arch and Gilman tell their readers that first-gen students don’t have enough knowledge nor support at home about college life. Unlike continuous generation students, first-gen students don’t have the luxury of getting previous information about college from their parents because they’ve never had that experience. Inevitably, first-generation students feel pressured to figure it out on their own which is ultimately detrimental to the student. Thus, first-gen students require social support when making the transition from high school to college.  Since first-gen students have less knowledge about college than their peers, they need extra support from students and administrators. This could come through mentors, seminars, webinars, campus buddies, etc. If colleges can effectively connect first-gen students with mentors that could pour experience, knowledge, and encouragement into them, first-gen students would be more likely to stay and finish college. Fundamentally, first-gen students need to know they are not alone and desire to be surrounded by people that can understand and appreciate their background. By establishing social support structures for them, institutions would be taking a step in the right direction.  

Apart from support, first-gen students would greatly benefit from more preparation when entering college. Based on the information provided by Xan Arch and Isaac Gilman in Designing Services for First-Generation Students, many first generational struggles are rooted from a lack of preparation (Arch, 2019).  Therefore, providing them with as much preparation as possible is a necessary form of action for institutions to take. Universities could do this through preparation programmers, however, “first-generation students are less likely to engage in college groups and organizations “ (Arch, 2019 ). Thus, colleges need curriculum courses (specifically for first-gen students) that teach all the preparation skills one would need through college. Lastly, first-gen students require connections with adequate resources to be confident and comfortable in school. Most of the resources first-gen students need are there but accessing them can be difficult for them since there are so many things competing for their attention. As a result, they need exposure to resources such as counseling services, financial aid offices, and academic advising in the early stages of their college career. This will greatly assist first-gen students when it comes to finding aid on campus. 

Being a first-generation, anything is difficult. They must be brave to face the adversity set before them and strength to rise above the loneliness that surrounds them. The struggles that first-gen students are not light and should never be overlooked. In reality, they don’t have to pursue higher education, at any moment they could quit school, work full time and no one would blame them. However, first-gen students make the decision every day to break the trend of their family members and reach for something bigger. Simply their resilience and dedication is something truly admirable. If one wishes to read more information about first-gen students “Supporting First-Generation Students” by Arelis Benitez was a great article about the ways communities can help when supporting first-gen students. Also, “Online Guide for First-Generation College Students” by Alecea Standlee is an excellent read for first-gen students themselves that want to ensure they are staying relevant on their resources and knowledge.

Work Cited: 

Arch, Xan, and Isaac Gilman. “First Principles: Designing Services for First- Generation

           Students.” College &Research Libraries, vol. 80, no. 7, Nov. 2019, pp. 996–1012.


          AN=1395784 8&site=eds-live&scope=site.

“Crlt.” CRLT,

UNC-Chapel Hill RECEIVES National Recognition for Supporting First-Generation Students. 17 Feb. 2020,


Standlee, A. (2019, April 11). Inside higher ed. Retrieved April 29, 2021, from generation-college-students-succeed-opinion

Schelbe, Lisa et al. “First Generation College Students’ Perceptions of an Academic Retention Program.” Journal of the Scholarship of

         Teaching and Learning, vol. 19, no. 5, Dec. 2019. EBSCOhost, doi:10.14434/josotl.v19i5.24300.


Kirtan Subramaniam’s Academic Self

Kirtan Subramaniam is a focused, curious, and resilient academic student. He is commented to school, and aspires to achieve in whatever he puts his mind to. When it comes to life, he is always up for a challenge and refuses to allow circumstances to bring him down. To attain this mindset, he tries to see every predicament as “a glass-half-full, not half-empty” (Subramaniam, 2021). This optimism encourages him to see and do his best in every situation. Kirtan believes that school has the ability to open up a world of curiosity. In one of our discussions, he said “I am the type of person to wonder about things that are taught to me even beyond the classroom…I’ve even spent hours upon hours being curious about random and trivial information” (Subramaniam, 2021). Based on his statement, learning was never a forced task but an opportunity to expand his understanding of valued topics. Within the classroom, Kirtan was able to found his passion, and outside the classroom, he continued to nurture it. Kirtan’s academic self can be condensed into those three words and as he pursues higher education, it continues to flourish.  

To appreciate Kirtan’s academic self, we should take the time to explore his academic journey. Kirtan started his academic career at Dunwoody Elementary School. He stayed there from kindergarten through 2nd grade, until his family moved to Cumming, Georgia. In Cumming, Kirtan finished elementary school at Whitlow and continued to Vickery Creek Middle School. After middle school, he went to South Forsyth High School and graduated from there in 2020. He currently is attending Georgia State University and majoring in Computer Science. He entered that major in hopes of one day becoming a developer for cryptocurrency companies. This semester, he is taking Economics, Math 2212, CS 1302, and, of course, English 1102. Thus far in English 1102, his favorite reading was “Taking my Parent to College” by Jennine Capó Crucet. Being a child of immigrants and a “first generation” American, Kirtan found this piece relatable in prospect to his own life experiences. He connected with the fact that he also had to grow up watching his parents struggle to understand American customs and did his best to help them along the way. Kirtan not only got strength from his education but also from his family, to become the fierce academic student he is today.   

Before closing, I would like to share something that I think really sums up Kirtan’s character. When discussing issues such as the pandemic and online school he said, “I guess lockdown sort of made me more distracted, but two things I have fundamentally realized is that: You can either make excuses or succeed, and discipline is the key to everything” (Subramaniam 2021). We can all agree that the pandemic had major effects on our lives, but how are you responding to those effects? Are you making excuses or are you finding ways to succeed in your circumstances? Kirtan has been able to succeed by seeing the pandemic as “a glass half full and not empty” and being disciplined in the areas he needed the most. If Kirtan Subramaniam can do it, can you?


Source Cited:

Subramaniam, Kirtan. (2021) Questionnaire. Unpublished paper, Georgia State University.