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Michelle Obama Admits That Her First Year At Princeton Was Tough

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flotus and princetonBy: Stephanie Allen-Gobert

In a new video designed to help students who are the first in their families to go to college, First Lady Michelle Obama says she recounts the difficulties she experienced as a freshman in college. In the video, Michelle states when she got to Princeton University, she didn’t know how to choose her classes or find her classrooms and she feared she wasn’t as smart as her classmates.

“Neither of my parents graduated from college, so when I got to campus as a freshman, I’ll admit I was a little overwhelmed,” Obama says at the start of the video. The videos from first generation college students and graduates are designed to inspire students to be the first in their families to go to college. The “I’m First” video is one collection created for an online group founded by the Center for Student Opportunity, a national non-profit group based in Maryland.

Obama, who graduated from Princeton in 1985, goes on in the video to describe bringing the wrong size sheets to New Jersey to fit her extra-long dorm mattress her freshman year.
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“That first night I slept with my legs sticking out past the end of the sheets, rubbing up against one of those plastic mattresses. And I ended up sleeping that way for my entire freshman year,”Obama says. “But here’s the thing, I may not have had the right sheets, but I learned pretty quickly that I had what it took to succeed in college.”

An estimated 30 percent of current college students are the first in their families to go to college, Center for Student Opportunity officials said. Many of those are also low-income students. First generation college students are about four times more likely to drop-out of school than students whose parents went to college.

“I want to thank First Lady Obama for sharing her inspiring story and putting a national spotlight on the important challenges and opportunities facing today’s low-income, first generation college students,” said Matt Rubinoff, founder and executive director of Center for Student Opportunity and I’m a First. “ We share the White House’s belief that the opportunity for college exists for all students. But for students who lack a family history of higher education, knowing that you are not alone in your pursuit of college and learning from those who have come before you is critical to making college dreams a reality.

“The truth is that if Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to that school-never,” Obama said at a recent White House event, according to a Washington Post report. “And I know that there are so many kids out there just like me.”

While at Princeton, Obama wrote her senior thesis on “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.” She has not returned to campus to speak since becoming First Lady. But she returned to Princeton to speak at a fundraiser near campus in 2012, joking about her student loans from Princeton combined with her husband’s student loans were higher than their mortgage when they first married,

The First Lady grew up in Chicago before attending Princeton and Harvard Law School.