It’s safe to say that being the first person in your family to attend college can inspire pride but also some apprehension. After all, the pressure to succeed as a first-generation student can be daunting and comes with some unique challenges. The good news is that – it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about preparing and having the right mindset. If you’re a first timer in the world of higher education, we’ve put together some advice for first generation college students to help navigate the path to graduation.
Draft a step-by-step to-do list
The hard part for many first-generation students is that they don’t have anyone in their family who has already – been there and done that. That can make it difficult to know where to start. Create a step-by-step to-do list for everything from completing the application and your FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), to scheduling an appointment with admissions and attending orientation. As you complete your tasks and check them off the list, you’ll be one step closer to the finish line.
Identify your campus resources
And when you do – use them! Get in touch with a career counselor to review the program, prerequisites, financial aid and anything else you might have questions about. Seek out any tutoring resources that might be available to you just in case you need them when you actually start classes. Operate with the premise of know before you go to set yourself up for success.
Don’t skip orientation
This is the perfect opportunity to meet your instructors and to get a feel for the layout of the campus. It’s also a great way to meet other students and start forming friendships with folks in your same situation.
Find a mentor and other first-generation students to connect with
Since you’re the first one in your family to attend college, it might be difficult for your family to totally understand the challenges you face. Mentors and other first timers can offer invaluable support and guidance that will keep you from feeling isolated. There’s nothing like a shared experience to bond over.
Build a support system
If you’re going to be working while you are in college, plan ahead for what you’ll need to balance work and education. Your family and friends will likely be happy to help you reach your goals, so discuss things you may need assistance with like child or pet care. Make sure your employers are aware that you’re in school and talk through any schedules you might need to work out. The point is to plan ahead to ensure you can hit the ground running all the way through to graduation.
Believe that you belong
This is one of the most important pieces of advice to hold on to. You are taking steps to create a brighter future for yourself and you are exactly where you should be. Don’t allow a moment of doubt to creep in and make you second guess your plan.
At the end of the day, you should consider that just because you are the first – doesn’t mean you’ll be the last person in your family to chase the dream of higher education. Apply this advice for first generation college students and it will help provide a foundation for other family members in the future. If you’re looking for a place to get started, check out the programs at Summit College. With dedicated instructors, real world experience and multiple programs to choose from, Summit is helping students reach their goals of a brighter future. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with our admissions department.