Are You a First-Generation College Student? Here’s What You Need to Know

What is a “first-generation college student?”

For many first-generation college students, going to college is an exciting and rewarding opportunity, but it also raises several questions.  For starters, the term first-generation college student has quite the variety of definitions. Some people define it as belonging to a family that is from another country. Others define it as having members of your family that attended college but didn’t graduate.

Confusing, right? There are many different and legitimate definitions of first-generation college student. To keep it as simple as possible, we will refer to first-generation students as “students from families in which their parents did not earn a four-year degree”.  Now that we’ve gotten the definition down, and if this describes you, here are 3 pieces of advice to keep in mind as you embark on your college journey as a first-generation college student.

1. There’s Help All Around You

As the first in your family to go to college, you should be beaming with pride and excitement, but the transition to college can be challenging and scary for everyone, including students who are the first in their family to go to college.  Whether you are considering a small, medium-sized, or large school, there are faculty, staff, and fellow students around to help you along the way. Oh, and let’s not forget about your family (those that did or did not attend college)! Reaching out for help or advice may be difficult, but it can make a huge difference.

2. There’s Power in Your Google Search

Across the internet, there are many resources for first-generation students transitioning to college.  From organizations that serve as an online community for students, to online courses for students and their families to take together, there are plenty of tools to help you succeed while in college.

Some awesome sites to visit for support are:

These resources are there for you, so there’s no need to be hesitant or nervous about using them.

3. Adjusting to College Takes Time. You Aren’t Alone.

After you start college, you might encounter some ongoing challenges as a first-generation college student on campus. Don’t fret!  All college students have trouble adjusting at times, and it’s alright that some of your circumstances are different than your peers.  Seeking help, and not waiting to do so, will help you with the challenges you are facing.  Keep in mind that tough times don’t equate to failure. If you are struggling, remember you are not alone and there are so many people who are there to guide and support you.  Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help!

If you are a first-generation college student preparing for the transition out of high school, there are many opportunities that lie ahead.  You aren’t alone in your journey–don’t forget, Set to Go has many resources on how to navigate the college transition.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.