5 Terms and Resources First-Generation College Students Need To Know

While the college application and enrollment process can be difficult for all students, it can be particularly challenging for first-generation college students who may lack the knowledgeable support system backing some peers. Being a first-generation student is exciting and fun, but it may come with concerns. If you’re about to embark on your first year as a college student (and are the first in your family to do so), you likely have a lot of questions. To feel more prepared, familiarize yourself with these five terms and resources all first-generation college students need to know, and get ready to push the boundaries of your academic life.


Perhaps the most important part of the college application process is the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid – the money. First-generation students may not be aware of approaching deadlines, the application procedure, and FAFSA rules. Familiarize yourself with this resource by reading through the FAQs, consulting a school counselor, or seeking advice from other students.

Student support services

Although all students may experience some struggle their first year, the transition can be particularly difficult for first-generation students. Familiarize yourself with the student support services available at your school. This can include things like a multicultural office, a counseling service, or a student life office.

These resources can help with both academic and social issues, which can be a huge benefit to first-generation students. They provide networking skills and support to students who may feel like they have none.


One of the most valuable resources for first-generation students is the alumni organization at the school they’re attending. Alumni organizations consist of people who have graduated or attended your school and who wish to remain involved. They’re typically passionate about education and college, and they’re a great resource if you’ve got questions. Alumni can help you with general and specific concerns, as well as give you an idea about the sort of atmosphere you’ll be entering.

Time management

Many college students have to work while going to school, and this number tends to be higher among first-generation students. Don’t be discouraged. Learn some effective time management skills before you embark on your academic journey so that you’re able to make the most of your experience.

Remember that teachers may be willing to work with students who are employed. Use breaks to do homework, prioritize responsibilities, and focus on your education.


As a first-generation student, you may have been told that you’re at a higher risk for dropping out. Statistics support this, but it doesn’t have to be true. Focus on the end goal of your college academic experience – graduation!

Use this prospect to propel you in your education – to pass your classes and excel in your major. By thinking of your experience a year at a time, it’s easy to lose sight of your end goal. Remember that you’re the first in your family to get this far, and be proud of yourself!