My parents and I came here to the US during the Vietnam war. While that may seem like many years ago it still feels like just yesterday for my parents who had to flee a war torn country with nothing except the clothes on their back with 4 young children and my mom pregnant with my sister. America is truly the land of opportunity if you put your mind to it. Being an Asian immigrant growing up in Mid west America (Nebraska) where my family was the only one different, my parents instilled into us a good education is the key to being able to have the American dream white picket fence home. With 5 kids to feed, my parents could not help all of us financially. I worked full time (as a bank teller) and went to school taking couple of classes at night in Junior college. I almost gave up completely as I felt at this pace it would take me 8 or so years! One day, in my bank teller job asking this client as he was getting keys to his brand new car, how he did it. He said you may feel like you are working full time now to have all these things but you need to make sacrifices and complete your education and go to school full time. I took that push, saved as much as I can from my job and took the leap to full time school. I found part time jobs just enough to pay for books and gas/car insurance of my beater car. I applied for student loans for the remaining two years in college and did work internships during the summer to help make ends meet. Was it super hard - yes. Trying to find part time jobs in between studying for classes so I can have basic gas money etc... I was not prideful. I took every job that I could whether that be at a fast food or being a basic store clerk - as long as they were flexible with my school hours.
Here are the tips I can pass onto you:
1) Stay focused on that dream - Sit down and visualize what you want out of life. Every night / day when it is hard (as it will get hard) remind yourself of what it will take.
2) Make sure to take the foundational courses you need (English, Math, Geography, Psychology etc...) and quickly determine what you liked/did not like and hone in a study that will set you where you wan to go.
3) talk to counselors and school administrators if you do not know what major in. Do you have a gift of gab? - study business, Great at math? Data science or computer science? Like biology and consider medical. Do not linger too long. Just decide and go. You can always switch if afterwards you realize it was not what you thought it to be.
4) Apply for student loans... It is ok to do this, however be very careful to not take too much on and or pick a trade school that is not accredited. Make sure the college you are choosing has a good track record of students being hired to jobs afterward. Do not pick the most expensive. I went to the local State school. They have great programs that are equivalent to Ivy league programs. Just do your homework and research what is best for you.
5) Get internships! Social media is a great tool nowadays. There was no LinkedIn or Twitter or internet when I grew up. Use these resources to find people and talk to them, do not be shy. Hustle and get yourself out there and build networks of people so they see you as this hard working driven student who just needs to be given a chance!
In ending, while I am an immigrant, I never saw myself in that way. I saw myself as an American with opportunities to make something of myself, and it was all up to me to go chase that dream.