Five Tips for First-Generation Students from a First-Generation Student
Starting college as a first-year student can be intimidating, and when you are the first in your family to go, it can be even more so. Learning how to live and study at a university is a change for everyone, but first-generation students typically have less knowledge about how college works and what they can do to ensure that they succeed. Here is a non-exhaustive list of tips for my fellow first-generation students from someone who has been in your shoes:
- Support systems. I know you’ve probably heard people talk about having a support system when they are going through something difficult, but the thing is, support systems are incredibly important at any point in our lives. My first tip to enjoying college and doing your best is to establish connections with supportive people. That can mean your family back home, friends you’ve known for a while that may have come with you, and/or new friends you’ve made here at Missouri State!
- Networking. This goes right along with support systems. Building connections with your peers and instructors will make you feel more engaged in your learning and can help you in the future. This is especially true in your college/department. Learn your instructors’ names, ask them questions, and get to know them. They could be used as references later down the road.
- Get involved. Getting involved on campus is a brilliant way to make friends, get some socializing in, and feel more at home here at Missouri State. There is a whole variety of student organizations, clubs, and teams that you could join. There are also organizations that put on all kinds of FREE events just for students. Going to those is a great way to make new friends and get to know your campus community.
- Financial literacy. Financial literacy means learning how to manage your money; this is a monumentally important task when adjusting to college. Setting up a budget and planning out specific days to pay your bills ahead of time are great ways to help with this. Figure out how much money you have coming in, and then divvy up your expenses based on that.
- Financial aid. Do your research on financial aid! At MSU, we have loads of scholarships available for students to apply for. It is also very important to fill out your FAFSA each year by the priority deadline so that you can maximize your scholarship intake. I didn’t really know anything about financial aid when I came to college, so I had to do a lot of research. Now, I have the opportunity to receive incredible scholarships because I filled out the Missouri State Annual Foundation Scholarship application, which you should do as well. The deadline for that application is March 1st, so now is the time to get on it!
Transitioning to university life can be stressful, but it can also be so much fun. Remember, you are doing this for you. You are here to learn and grow, no matter what your background may be. You deserve to be here, and we are happy to have you. Thank you for reading! I will leave you with a quote from Nelson Mandela,
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
(Bio: My name is Georgia Grace Wright, a junior at MSU majoring in Communication Studies. I also have minors in both Creative Writing and Anthropology.)