Tips for First-Gen Students
Going to college is daunting for everyone, but the pressure is heavier when you’re the first in your family to go. Navigating college admissions as a first-gen or first-generation student can be difficult.
Growing up with parents who speak of their college days and are familiar with the application process can be beneficial, even if it may seem trivial. For first-gen students, that “insider” insight may be harder to find. However, while it can be overwhelming, there are some tips to making college more navigable for first-gen students.
If you are anxious about being the first in your family to go to college, consider starting locally. Community colleges are great for first-gen student entering the higher education sphere. They allow students to study close to home where they can be supported by their family. Also, you are more likely to attend classes with students in similar situations. Approximately 50 percent of first-gen students start at community college first.
Community colleges also allow first-gen students to save money. At community college, you can do the first two years of college at while paying only 40% the cost of four-year college tuition. Some community colleges even have programs that allow students to take classes for free.
Flexible scheduling, including online and night options, also allow first-gen students to work part-time or full-time jobs without interfering in their education.
Ask Questions Often
Applying for college can be hard when it seems like you don’t know anything. The good news is that you don’t have to know everything.
If you are a first-gen student, you may be unable to ask your family for in-depth advice, but there are plenty of people who can offer you that guidance. If you are a high school student, talk to your teachers and counselors about college. Ask questions. If you are an adult learner looking to get a degree, talk to counselors and advisors at the colleges you are interested in (high school students should do this too!). Many college counselors have contact information and appointment request listed on their college’s website.
These people have a wealth of knowledge on applying for and attending college. It is likely they will be able to ease your concerns and answer any questions. If they don’t know an answer to your question, they can probably find someone who does.
Take advantage of the resources available to you. Meet with college counselors and college recruiters. Attend college fairs and events where you can ask questions and gather information. Tour campuses and talk to the student ambassadors there. Also, talk to your teachers and peers, and see if they can offer any advice or insight. If you’re looking for college information, check out helpful tools like CC Finder! These resources exist to make the process more navigable.
As you navigate college and college admissions, create connections with people. Look for groups you are interested in joining. Maintain connections with high school teachers and counselors and forge new connections with peers and college staff. You are going to have questions and need help, so make sure you know people who will be able to help you when the time comes.