First-generation college students — students whose parents either never attended college or never earned a four-year degree — sometimes face a tall task when it comes to earning a college degree.
The absolute last thing first-gen students should do is set aside their dreams and give up on college altogether. There’s a whole world out there to explore and it begins with earning a college degree! This lesson will give you some tips on how to thrive in college.
As a first generation college student, you face issues that some other students and professors might not understand. Generally, you might face issues of acceptance and belonging, not understanding the processes and policies of colleges, and having trouble building relationships with instructors and staff in positions of authority. Knowing and anticipating some of these problems is an important first step in being a successful college student, as well as a successful college-educated professional in the world beyond school. Below are some tips that will help you in your college journey.
If you’re even the slightest bit worried about being behind your peers academically, seek assistance as soon as possible! Most campuses have a variety of tutoring and support services in addition to the office hours instructors keep that will help get you up to speed. There’s no shame in asking for help.
Seek out group and study partners who seem to genuinely care; they’ll push you to learn more and make the most of your time. Yost says his strategy was to seek out military veterans, other first-gen students and students whose families live overseas — noting that many are very driven to earn a degree.
While there are a variety of different scholarship opportunities available each year to students, don’t expect them to just fall into your lap. It might not be the most exciting activity, but dedicating time to your scholarship search can really pay off in the end!
Want to know the quickest way to feel like you belong? Join a club! Whether you’re joining a ballroom dance team like Griffin or associating with a student political organization, you’ll instantly have common ground with other members and may just earn lifelong friends.
If you’re planning on working a job while attending school, be cautious and don’t over-commit. Let your employer know your situation; if you’re working full-time and can afford it, see if a temporary shift to part-time work can be accommodated.
Some might hide it better than others, but there’s always going to be a bit of nervousness and doubt when you’re taking a big step in life. Don’t let it get the best of you — find confidence in how hard you’ve worked to reach this point and know that your family is proud of you and your ambition.