I am a first-generation college student. My parents never went to college and had no idea how to help me navigate going to college however, the expectation was that I would go to college. And if I went, I needed to do so on my own accord. Even now, I remember the confusion of figuring out which colleges I was applying to as well as trying to figure out how to pay for college. In my mind, everyone had a college fund set up and college was magically paid for; this was not the case for me. There were times where I felt as if I was floundering because I didn’t know where to turn for help or that there was even help available for my questions. Looking back now, I never understood the scope of resources that were available to me nor did I ask for help.
As I started to settle into college life and ultimately transferred to a different university, my own siblings started to apply to colleges as well. I was thankful that I was able to help my brother navigate what he was about to encounter on his college journey. What turned out to be the most interesting piece for me was by the time my sister, who was the third sibling, went to college, my mother and father were helping her navigate because of what they had learned from me!
I wouldn’t change my journey for anything, and I know I was a better student because of the work I put into my own experiences. I know I have loving family as well as there were faculty and staff who helped me get where I am today. With that being said, there are some things I wish I knew.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! And ask again and again for help!
- Develop a relationship with your academic advisor and use them as a resource.
- Get to know the faculty who are not only teaching your courses but also in your department. There is going to come a day where you need a letter of reference from a faculty member.
- Get involved. Without a doubt, joining different student organizations and my sorority shaped who I am today. There are several lessons I learned from the different experiences of other students.
- Ask lots of questions. And then ask more questions.
Andrea Weber, Ed.D.
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students