Education is a vital aspect when it comes to awareness and understanding the world around you. I find that many people correlate education to a college degree, but there are many other ways of learning. “Getting an education” in college comes from experiences both inside and outside the classroom, but there are often social and economic barriers that can inhibit one from partaking. While there are resources available to lessen these barriers, such as need-based financial aid and taking out forgiving loans, there is much to be done to make higher education more accessible.

I am a first generation college student, so when it came to applying and enrolling into college, it was mainly up to me and my high school counselors to figure out the process. Reaching out to ask for help was necessary for me, as it may be for most high school students planning to go to college. The most important part of desiring to acquire knowledge is the ability to ask questions. The more questions you ask, the better you get at asking questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to be successful!

A more modern method for learning is through the internet. The internet is a beautiful invention. You can learn just about anything on the internet, although for some topics you may prefer to seek a teacher or mentor to help you with. YouTube is plentiful with useful information. Something else I love about the internet is the ability to find and build a community with like-minded individuals. They say you are the average of the five people closest to you, which I do believe to be true. It’s important to surround yourself with positive, supportive friends, family, and mentors because they have an effect on not only your conscious mind, but your subconscious mind as well. You are aware of your conscious thoughts, while your subconscious has been receiving messages since you were born — whether it had been positive or negative — and your brain makes decisions using both.

With a positive outlook and an initial drive to learn, you will be able to fuel yourself with useful and interesting knowledge to help you on your journey into the “real world.” By “real world,” I mean the world after high school or after college; the world where you are focusing on being able to support yourself while also loving what you do.

Ask questions. Find your support system. Be hungry to learn.

Written by Nicole Camello, Girls Inc. of the Valley’s Communication Intern.