Five Tips to Help You Succeed in College

This post is a paid partnership between Alamo City Moms and Alamo Colleges District. The text and images were provided by Alamo Colleges District. 

College can seem like a daunting task but for Janice Castillo, she was determined to create a better life for herself and her son, Nathaniel.

Janice grew up in a large family, the second oldest of seven siblings. She was the first in her family to attend college despite dropping out of high school, having her son as a teenager, and being temporarily homeless. With the right mindset and guidance, Janice would go on to become a role model for others, including her son.

Janice received her certificate in Community Health from Northwest Vista College in 2012. She then returned in 2015 where she received two associate degrees in Community Health and Applied Science. Soon after, Janice transferred to Texas A&M San Antonio in 2017 where she received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts & Science.

In 2019, Janice and her son were the commencement speakers for Northwest Vista College. Nathaniel told a crowd of nearly 800 students when he saw his mom succeed, it motivated him to do better.

Nathaniel started his college path at a young age when Janice signed him up for the robotics camp at Northwest Vista College as well as the Game Design program. From then, Nathaniel became comfortable and confident in a college environment and began taking courses for Pre-Freshman Engineering. After graduating from high school, Nathaniel continued his education at Northwest Vista College, where he was also a tutor in the math lab helping others. Now he’s attending Trinity University with the goal of getting a law degree.

Janice hopes her story will motivate other moms that they can do it, too. Here are some tips from Janice:

  1. Write down your goals: It’s important to physically write down your goals so you can see them and check them off as you go.
  2. Don’t let fear overtake you: You have to tell yourself that you can do it. We have to look in the mirror and say “yes I can do it.”
  3. Find people you look up to and become that for someone else: During her time at Northwest Vista College, Janice found her role model in Dr. Fernando Martinez.
  4. Have a backup plan. Life always gets in the way, what’s your plan to make sure you succeed?
  5. Don’t give up. A quote that stands out to Janice is by Albert Einstein, “You never fail, until you stop trying.”

Even though Northwest Vista College has switched to remote learning due to COVID-19, students still have virtual access to tutors, student services and campus organizations. To learn more, visit