Things They Don't Tell You About Being a First-Generation College Kid
Being a first-generation college student is painted in such an amazing light--and in many ways, it is. Defying odds and overcoming individual struggles you may to go to college is amazing. Paving a new road for future generations and being the example and role model you’d like to be is amazing.
But, aside from the first-gen clubs, free t-shirts, an mild praise from family and peers, there’s a lot they don’t tell you about being the first in your family to go to college. There’s a unique set of struggles and pressures you aren’t warned about or equipped for.
You have no one. To make this sound less harsh--you have no one who’s experienced college who can help you. Remember in 7th grade when you asked your dad for help with your geometry homework, and he could help because he learned the Pythagorean theorem at some point and remembered enough to get you through it? You won’t have that in college. Your parents likely have never experienced differential calculus or child psychology or geology before. You can’t message them for help, because you’ll both be lost. They won’t have dorm advice for you, or tips on joining college clubs and societies. They won’t have connections in Greek life or peers to provide letters of recommendation. But this isn’t bad--it doesn’t mean your family is a bunch of lesser, bad people for not being able to help in ways other parents can. It just means their skill set is different, and you might have a harder time than others.
Not having anyone to go to is stressful. Everything listed above typically adds more stress to the student--not knowing who to turn to.
There’s pressure. Every student feels pressure. BUT, not every student feels the SAME pressure. First generation college students typically feel they HAVE to be as successful as possible, feel like they have to finish college on time or early, and have an overwhelming general need to compete and succeed.
Sometimes you just feel lost. Like...sometimes you just do!
To any first-gen students reading this: you’re doing amazing, sweetie. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to fit a timeline or mold of what success in college means. Try your best, find your comfort, and thank your family.
You got this,