What to Know as a First Generation College Student

Jamellah Craven, Guest Columnist

1. Always go to class. You never know when your professor might give extra points for attendance, review for a test or offer advice for an assignment. Sometimes the professor won’t say anything about the attendance for classes, so be sure to go. This is also a bonus if you start to struggle with assignments because the professors will see that you have been dedicated to the class, making them more inclined to help or compromise with you. They will see that you’re invested in your education.

2. If you are not a morning person, then do not schedule 8 a.m. classes. You’ll never go to them. Sometimes people can’t wake up at eight in the morning. It’s okay if you can’t. But schedule your classes for a time you know that you can wake up. All the power to the ones who can wake up for an 8 a.m. class though.

3. Apply for as many scholarships as you can! More scholarships equal fewer loans and more refund checks! There are plenty of resources on campus that can help you get a scholarship. The first stop is the Financial Aid office. Ask about scholarships and grants.

4. Make sure you make a friend in each of your classes. They will become your study buddies. Always look for people to sit with during the first week of classes to build relationships. You never know if Sarah, the girl from chemistry, can help you with a paper or study guide.

5. Get involved! Join clubs or organizations that can benefit you or bring you happiness. You don’t want to sit back one day and remember this experience as, “I did nothing and just stayed in my room.” Get out and join some student organizations like the South Asian Student Association or the LGBTQIA+ Allies. You can even create a student organization.

6. Call your parents or guardians when you can. Chances are they miss you just as much as you miss them. They may not always say it, but they miss you too. This is a transition for them as well.

7. Learn about people different from yourself. Be open-minded. Take cultural courses, join cultural organizations, visit the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion. You are going to come into contact with many different types of people in this world. You need to figure out how to embrace and accept others.

8. Never leave clothes in the washer after the cycle is done. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often this happens. Be ready to take your clothes out, or someone else will. You  might even get some of your clothes stolen. Also, if you see someone else’s clothes in the washer, just be kind and put them in the dryer.

9. WEAR SANDALS OR FLIP-FLOPS IN THE SHOWERS! The showers are more than likely nasty. To protect yourself against germs, invest in shower shoes. You will be surprised at the stuff that happens in college bathrooms, so wear shoes.

10. Learn how to do your taxes and FAFSA. They do not teach you how to do these things in class. So sit down with a financial aid officer, find a support group, befriend some accounting majors or talk to a financial advisor to learn how to do these important things on your own.