By Gladis Ricaurte, Blackstone Valley Prep Senior and Future First Generation College Student

Two thousand eighteen is an important year for me as a student, but it’s even more significant for my family. After crossing the high school graduation stage as a member of Blackstone Valley Prep’s first-ever graduating class, I will also become the first member of my family to attend college. Which college will I attend? That question looms large in my mind as I am fully engrossed in the college application process and eager for acceptance letters that won’t arrive for several months.

Senior year at BVP has been an exercise in balancing a demanding course load with the rigorous college application process. This semester, I’m enrolled in AP Art History, AP Government and Politics, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Statistics, Law in Contemporary Society, and Nonprofit Management, in addition to the required courses of PE/Health and Spanish.

The college application process is both exhilarating and intimidating, an emotional rollercoaster for seniors around the country. As confident as I am that I belong at a great college or university, I try to be realistic. There will be acceptances and there will be rejections.

In total, I submitted common applications to 17 schools (yes, 17!), including four for early decision: Dartmouth College, Providence College, the University of Virginia, and Florida State University. Dartmouth is my dream school. I have always been interested in government and Dartmouth’s Political Science and Government program is one of the strongest in the nation. Dartmouth is also located in New Hampshire – a political swing state where I could experience the excitement of a campaign every four years. And in browsing through their course offerings, I found classes on ethnic and racial identity in government — topics I feel are currently under-discussed.

Despite the stress that comes with applying for college, I feel really lucky. I’ve attended a college-prep school since 6th grade. I’m surrounded by people who are driven by BVP’s mission to prepare my classmates and me for college and the world beyond. With that sense of gratitude, I want to acknowledge the people who have supported me on this college-application journey: my parents and brother, and everyone at BVP, especially Ms. Gemma, Mr. Jose, Mr. Sinha, Mr. Epstein, and Ms. Arango. These staff members make me feel like my dreams are possible.