Are You the First in the Family to go to College?
Dog near yellow ribbon on tree.


Being the first in your family to leave for college can be lonely. But those at home will welcome you back.
Public domain photo by Kim Newberg.

Being the first person in your family to attend college can present some unique challenges and opportunities. The first-generation student does not have the resource of family members who have previously gone through the college process. This means that you will need to take advantage of the knowledge of others, including your high school counselors and friends of your parents who have attended higher education.

Also, be sure to attend your freshman orientation. These sessions can answer many questions you might have about attending university and living on campus. There are also many programs available on most campuses that assist students with adjusting to college life. Check your campus bulletin boards for notice of these events.

Many colleges and organizations offer scholarships especially for first-generation students. Make sure to look into whether your intended school offers these benefits. For instance, Coca-Cola offers a scholarship program through 400 colleges, granting scholarships to needy students who have a record of community service and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.

First-generation students can also experience a wide range of emotions concerning their admission. These can include feelings of joy, pride or even guilt. It is okay to feel any, or all of these emotions. Just make sure to talk things over with a trusted individual.

Also, remember that your family may not understand the stresses that are affecting you as a college student. Even close relatives might treat you differently after acceptance or graduation.

Apart from anything else, congratulate yourself on being the first person in your family to attend college!

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way.