First Generation College Students
10 Things Only First Generation College Students will Understand…and Resources!
- Feeling the pressure of being an academic pioneer - As a first-generation college student (FGCS), you may feel pressure to succeed not only for yourself, but for your entire family or community. Talk to family about this pressure and let them know how you feel. Connecting with the Buckeyes First Student Organization can help build confidence by connecting with peers.
- Feeling like everyone else gets something you don’t get - As a FGCS, it can feel like you’re the only one who does not get it. Other students have been able to talk to family, relatives and friends who may have gone to college which provides information. Researching and asking questions is doubly important for a FGCS. Letting your professors and advisors know that you’re a First Gen student could be a big help. They can help you out by giving sage advice on how to navigate college, especially for first years and offer tips and tricks for a successful college experience. Meeting with a Wellness Coach is also a great way to help adapt to life at Ohio State.
- Trying to Navigate Bureaucracy - Ohio State is a city within a city with 60,000+ students. FGCSs can often feel overwhelmed pretty quickly. But don’t lose hope. The Student Advocacy Center is a great office that is designed to help students manage the university system. Get support navigating tricky paperwork, financial short-falls, documentation, and more.
- Self-Doubt - A common feeling described by Ohio State FGCSs is self-doubt. FGCSs often feel like they are not good enough, smart enough, or connected enough despite the fact that they have similar grades and friend circles as others. Talking about your difficulties and asking for feedback can provide clarity about how you’re doing. In addition, working with a CCS counselor can help solve a problem or point you in the right direction.
- Not having a parental script to follow - While parents are supportive, for FGCSs, parents cannot speak from first hand knowledge of attending college. This might leave you feeling like you’re on an island. Discussing your academic progress and professional development with your advisor or a mentor can help you assess academic preforance. Still look to your parents for emotional support however. You can also look to RA’s, Resident Managers and your peers for help.
- A feeling of losing your identity within your family/community - You will become more and more accustomed to life as a Buckeye and you will grow. While your identity evolves others back home might not understand how confusing it is to juggle financial aid, challenging classes, staying social, and maintaining your GPA. Simultaneously the community and your family continue to evolve as well. Conversations may feel disconnected with family. So, maintain these relationships and be patient and detailed oriented when talking with friends and family from back home. The Student Life Center for Belonging and Social Change can also help people connect to each other and to culturally-specific events on campus that may remind you of home.
- Managing two worlds - Often FGCSs need to manage both school life and family life. This can include helping manage home life, traveling between locations, and in some cases sending money and resources for family needs. It is important to try to take time for self-care. Groups like Student Life Recreational Sports can provide exercise and relieve stress through a variety of activities.
- Not knowing the social rules - A big part of college is knowing the social rules of how to succeed. This can include networking, talking to professors, knowing who/how to find support, etc. Many FGCSs are often not exposed to these skills. Talking interpersonal risks are a big part of college and it’s important to get out of your comfort zone. Utilizing the Buckeye Career's Handshake system or visiting the Career Counseling and Support Services can help you learn these skills.
- Managing financial aid/Worrying about money - College is expensive. Being planful may mean sacrifice and planning. Financial stress is not something that every student experiences, but talking with the Financial Aid Office throughout the semester can be helpful and they often can help students secure funding for extra expenses. Some of this funding is not loan based, which can be a big plus for students who are fearing high levels of school debt. Reach out and see what is available.
- That being a first generation student gives you a sense of pride others will never understand! - There is something truly special about graduating college as a FGCS. It can mean fulfilling both you and your family’s dreams for yourself. You should take pride in this accomplishment and please don’t forget that CCS is here to support you in your journey.