AUSTIN (KXAN) Getting accepted into college is tough. Yet, it can be an even taller task for first-generation students.

Throughout the fall semester at Texas State University, over 2,000 first-generation college students enrolled in a university seminar that helps with their transition to the college experience and environment.

Of these, 19 students are from Breakthrough Central Texas — an Austin-area nonprofit creating a path to and through college for folks who are the first in their families to earn a college degree. 

Kriti Magar is a freshman at TXST with dreams of becoming a nurse.

“Being the oldest in my family and a first-generation student, it is hard to ask for help,” she said. “You’re the first person taking that big step in your life and not just your life but your family’s life.”

Claudia Ochoa teaches the university seminar course while sharing her own experiences as a first-generation college graduate.

“For first-gen students in general, having someone or an entity that is able to provide concrete information is really important,” she said.

Ochoa joined Breakthrough as a sixth grader before going on to graduate from Texas State. Now, she’s teaching a college course at her alma mater.

“The beauty of this course is that it offers a space where students can come together and say, ‘I’m experiencing this,’” Ochoa said. “They’re having a realization that other students are having the same experience.”

Over the course of the semester, her students learned how to develop skills such as time management, goal setting, note taking, test taking, career exploration and networking. 

This provided a big benefit to Magar.

“It actually helped me improve my exam scores,” she said.

Overall, the goal is to give these students a brighter path forward pioneering the college experience.

“Make a change, create community and ultimately affect their success,” Ochoa concluded.

Since 2011, more Breakthrough Central Texas high school graduates have enrolled in Texas State University than any other college or university.

To date, the organization has helped nearly 300 students earn their college degrees, with 32 of them earning degrees from Texas State.