Advice from Students

Student to Student Advice

It can help parents to know what other students have experienced. We asked a number of first-generation college students what advice they would give to first-generation students just starting in college.

Build Community

Surround yourself with other first generation students,  no matter if you’re a different ethnicity, different races. If you surround yourself with first generation students, and you all have to have shared experiences with your parents and you can just relate to each other.

Journalism graduate

Group of students smiling

I wish I would have connected more to the people on campus, I feel I was so focused on school that I felt like I didn’t have time to be socializing.

Fourth-year nutrition major


Ask Questions  


I ask a lot of questions. I don’t like not understanding. If I don’t understand something, I’ll  ask someone who knows more than me.

First-year biology major

Students asking questions

I made mistakes and kept going. I wish I had reached out to people.  I’m just so prideful sometimes that I think I don’t need help. I can do it myself. Bad idea.

First-generation study abroad student


Ask for help. I didn’t. There’s somebody that’s done it before, so go ask that person, even if it’s other first generation students. So ask for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

First-generation social work major


College is a really good time to just learn about yourself. When you turn 18, you’re not gonna know the whole world and going to college gives you a little bit more time to figure out life.

First-generation electrical engineer major


Try to apply for a study abroad. Apply for study abroad scholarships and do networking. I was able to study abroad twice. My parents didn’t know about it so the people around me helped me. Try to do the best things in college. Study abroad is one.

First-generation study abroad student


One piece of advice I would give to first-generation college students is to be open about coming to college and not always being able to understand what to do.  I came into college not knowing all the right things to do and there was a lot of trial and error. Especially with choosing majors, what classes I should be taking and what is good for me. Try to explore all your options but take your time with it as well. It’s definitely okay to procrastinate a little bit on choosing your major or career goals because you don’t know or want to rush that decisions. Or you might end up with something you don’t like and there goes your four years.

Third-year sports medicine major

Student to Parent Advice

Successful first-generation students also had some advice for parents.

Asian student with parents at graduation

I want my parents to know about college, how it works, what college offers, and also how difficult some courses are or that some people don’t graduate in four years.

First-year biology major

Be understanding of your students, of the kids because honestly they’re trying their best.

First-generation history major