Advice for First Generation College Students

Are you the first person in your family to attend college? If so, you may feel like you don’t have anyone in your family to turn to when you have questions about college and it may be a little more difficult for you to find the support that you need to help with college applications, standardized exams, and the financial aid process.

Don’t sweat it…it this post, we’ll offer solid advice for first generation college students who are looking to prepare, attend, and succeed in college!

1. No Question Is A Dumb Question

Don’t be afraid to ask for help whenever you have a question. While you may have heard your parents or teachers tell you…“no question is a dumb question,” this is especially true for first generation college students. The college search and application process can be tricky, so it’s better to ask questions if you’re confused or having a hard time. Trust me…it will save you a lot of wasted time, energy, and frustration.

If you haven’t graduated from high school yet, take time out of your schedule to meet with your guidance counselor on a consistent basis.  He or she will likely be able to answer your questions or at least point you in the right direction.

If you’ve already graduated from high school, then you should try to find a mentor – someone who’s already been through the college admissions process. This could be a friend, co-worker, relative, etc. This person should be able to help guide you through the process.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to directly call the colleges that you’re interested in. I’m certain that anyone in the admissions or financial aid department would be willing to talk to you about the enrollment process, tuition costs, student housing, or anything else that you have questions about.

2. College Isn’t High School

Most first generation college students assume that college will not be much more difficult than college. Making this assumption is a huge mistake and often causes students to be caught off guard by how difficult college really is. It’s not uncommon for straight “A” high school students to struggle in their freshman year of college.

Here are a few things that you can do to better prepare yourself:

A) Consult with your academic advisor. He or she will be able to help you put a balanced schedule together so that you don’t end up with a schedule that is full of really tough courses.

B) Expect the first semester to be challenging. It will take some time for you to get adjusted to college. You’ll have to learn the best way to manage your work schedule, school schedule, and study schedule.

C) Ask your professors for help if you don’t understand something. Don’t be afraid to make an appointment with your professor if you need additional help outside of the classroom. They are there to help you. You could also participate in study groups or seek out an individual tutor if necessary.

3. Participate, Participate, Participate…

Participate during class by asking and answering questions. Not only will this let the professor know that you’re interested in the topic, but it will also keep you focused and help you remember the material that was taught in class that day.

Try your best to show up for every class and complete all homework assignments on time. If you are active in class, your professor will notice and be more likely to assist you outside of the classroom if you have questions.

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.


Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

Latest posts by TheCollegeHelper (see all)