While I was recovering I got a text from a student I had my first year teaching. She said that she didn't want to go to college anymore because she was "scared" and "tired of all these kids that are trying to go to the same place." There's a few things right away that I explained to her that hopefully helped her realize that those reasons, while valid, are not worth avoiding college.
First, fear is natural. When you are the first person in your family to go to college, there aren't as many people that are close to you who can tell you that everything be OK from a place of knowledge. There aren't as many people that can give you a realistic picture because they haven't experienced it so college seems like the great unknown. This isn't me trying to hop inside the mind of someone who is a first generation college student, these are the thoughts that she expressed as a result of our conversation. That process in itself, the process of helping her talk out her feelings, is something she appreciated.
Second, deciding to go or avoid college for other people is, generally speaking, a bad idea. I explained that the college she has been looking forward to attending is much bigger than high school. I told her she didn't have to see and hang out with anyone she didn't want to and that her future and learning were much more important that a few people from high school. The opportunities are worth the risk of running into someone she's not a fan of.
The last thing I offered to do was connect her with college graduates that can answer her questions and concerns about college to make it scary. Not just black females like herself, but graduates of all backgrounds so that she could get multiple perspectives on what her future may look like. She demanded that I follow through with that offer, and I have. Let's see if that makes a difference.