First Gen 101
So, you’re the first in your family to attend college. First of all, congratulations! All of the intense test-taking, lengthy campus visits, and nail-biting anticipation for that acceptance letter paid off. But the ride isn’t over!
BY: Ashley Quire
So, you’re the first in your family to attend college. First of all, congratulations! All of the intense test-taking, lengthy campus visits, and nail-biting anticipation for that acceptance letter paid off. But the ride isn’t over! Now you’re in countdown mode until you step foot on campus as an official college student. College is more than just the next step in your school career— it’s a world of opportunities and challenges to help you prepare for your future. To take full advantage of your college experience, it is beyond essential to survive your first year. Here’s how!
Know Your On and Off-Campus Resources.
Know what’s available to you around campus. Remember: The broke college student stereotype is real. You need to know all of the tricks and deals to enjoy yourself on a budget— $1 tacos and free coffee at the caf are your best friends. Chances are, your school has a library with tons of books and computers at your disposal. You’ll have plenty of assignments that will require research, so why not get to know your library?
Next, check out the career services office. I already know what you’re thinking: I just got here. Why do I need to think about getting a job now? Get to know the folks in this office to hook you up with resume help, mock interviews, internships, and career fairs. You want to make as many connections as you can in the job world before you finish school.
Develop Your Support System.
You’re most likely going to be away from home for most of the year. That means being away from your high school friends, your family, and your comfort zone. That’s why you need to build a support system in that first year. You can join a student organization, hang out with fellow classmates you meet at orientation or bond with your (hopefully) really cool roommate. Even though you may be away from home, know that your family and friends are just a phone call, text, or Facebook message away.
Ask Questions— Lots of Them!
We’re big on the phrase: You don’t know what you don’t know. You might not know that journalism is the perfect fit for you, even though you’re studying accounting. You might not know that your debating skills could turn you into a bonafide lawyer. The best path to these “a-ha” moments is through asking questions. If you’re expecting to learn in college without asking questions, you’re in for a big surprise. Rest assured that you have plenty of faculty members to help you along the way. The staff knows you’re new, and many of them have been in your shoes before. These folks are all a part of your support system.
At InQuire Higher we’re dedicated to helping students and parents navigate the best financial package and scholarships at any stage of your journey. We strive to help students graduate with little to no debt. Feel free to reach out and let us help you! inquirehigher.com
These tips from the Auburn University at Montgomery Admissions and Scholarships teams are great for students applying to college and looking for financial aid and scholarships — especially students who are the first in their family to go to college.
Starting early ensures you’re prepared to put your best foot forward and take advantage of every available opportunity before the deadlines. Get your SAT/ACT testing done as soon as possible — and work on getting your scores up! If you need help, ask your guidance counselor about taking the test again, and about prep and review classes. Some colleges even offer testing opportunities outside of regularly scheduled testing dates. When you’re starting to look at colleges, look over the school’s admission requirements and scholarship offerings so you’ll have time to gather all the information you need to apply. There’s lots of paperwork to keep track of — admissions applications, FAFSA forms, and scholarship applications.
Ask for help.
You may be the first in your family to go to college, but your high school guidance counselors and teachers have been there before. They’re great resources for navigating the process. You can also reach out to the admissions and scholarships teams at the colleges you’re interested in.
Once you’ve applied and been accepted to a school, make sure you look for messages from your institution in the mail and in your email inbox. Those messages contain important information and next steps to ensure you’re ready to start on time and succeed when you get to college.