A Little Advice for First Generation Students Applying to College

Freshman year of college can be daunting to anyone, but the prospect of leaving home and living with several thousand strangers can be even more nerve-racking if you come from a background where few people in your family or neighborhood have experienced college. You might feel as if you’re alone, but many of your classmates will be going through the same exact thing. Here are a few tips that can help you make a smooth transition:

Find a regular schedule:

College means freedom, but that feeling of liberation can quickly turn to stress as you are inundated by a seemingly limitless number of classes and clubs. Finding a routine and sticking to it can help you stay focused and feel comfortable in your new surroundings.

Reach out for help:

When I asked my friends and former clients what they wish they’d known as freshmen, one of the most common answers was that professors are willing to help if you reach out to them or go to their office hours. Furthermore, most schools have offices or administrators dedicated to assisting students in the transition to college, be it helping to fill out a financial aid form or even getting money to buy textbooks or a winter coat.

Find your niche:

International and first-generation students are just a few of the groups that often have student organizations dedicated to helping their peers acclimate to college. Many colleges have a pre-college orientation week, and all colleges have student clubs that offer immediate opportunities to meet new friends. These clubs include some that focus on specific backgrounds, or on interests and activities.

Photo:  "Cornell University, Olin Library Conservation Lab," courtesy Preservation Services, U.V, October 13, 2006