Forging the Path as a First-Generation College Student
The myOptions Team
Navigating the college application process and college environment is daunting for anyone, being the first in your family to go to college adds an additional layer of complexity. You’ve made it this far, so I’m certain you’ve developed the oh so important skills of resourcefulness and perseverance. With that being said, I’m confident that you will conquer this too. For all the fellow first-gens out there, it may not be easy, but crossing that stage will be so worth it.
Pat yourself on the back.
You’ve made it, you’ve defied the odds and are making family history. You will be an inspiration for generations to come (no pressure). It’s never too late to go to college...so you could inspire mom or dad to hit the books too.
Find your tribe.
This applies to high school students in the college application process and college students alike. You may not receive the support from the traditional sources like many of your friends, but you won’t let that stop you. There are TONS of resources out there, you just have to be willing to seek them out.
High school students: seek out the guidance of your teachers, counselors and friends’ parents who are college graduates.
College students: Most colleges will have specific resources dedicated to first-gen students, don’t be shy. Take FULL advantage of them. You will also get to meet peers who are in the same boat as you.
Capitalize on this financially.
There are lots of scholarships out there dedicated towards first-gens. On your FAFSA, be sure to answer the questions regarding the education level of your parents to properly report your first-gen status. Make sure you fill out the FAFSA each year you are in school! Say it loud and proud because it could pay off.
Let your family live vicariously through your experience (within reason).
Chances are you are fulfilling dreams they never had the chance to. Be patient with the questions they will have. Share stories about your experience, and bring them into as much of your college life as possible, through orientation, family weekend events etc. Also, get them those corny “XYZ University Mom, Dad, Aunt” etc. t-shirts; they will be so proud to rock them.
Pay it forward.
Be the person you needed when you were younger. Once you get the hang of the whole college thing, take the time to help a younger family member apply to college, mentor a first-gen freshman transitioning to college, or volunteer at a local school and talk to students about college. Your perspective will have extra value for future first-gen students since you’ve walked in their shoes.