Tips for first-generation students


The transition into college can be difficult for anyone.

Some may find the experience less daunting, since they’re following in their parents’ footsteps. But other students, however, are the first in their families to attend college. 

So, just in time for the new school year, we’ve gathered some tips for first-generation students.

Brodrick Thomas, coordinator of student engagement and diversity, was a first-generation student himself. 

Thomas explained that first generation students tend to disassociate themselves from others, assuming those with parents who went to college understand more.

“Always seek help,” Thomas said. “Surround yourself with a community of people that can encourage you, answer tough questions and help organize your new life.”

When first-generation students distance themselves from others, it makes it easier for them to fall behind. It's important to intentionally get involved and find a niche, whatever it may be. Club Rush, an event designed to help you find out about different clubs and organizations on campus, is a great way to get a taste of different communities.

There are other ways to get involved on campus, too, like becoming a part of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) or finding a part-time, on-campus job.

Trevecca is intentional about creating events designed to bring students together in fellowship, and it's important to take advantage of those!

A few more tips that might help first-year and first-generation students:

  • Don’t overload yourself. Start small while you’re still adjusting to the new changes.
  • Branch out and introduce yourself! Try not to be shy.
  • Stay open-minded and positive; no one is out to get you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Again, everyone is on your side.
  • Develop a routine or schedule that works for you and keeps you organized.
  • Find a good balance between academics, social life, work, and any other responsibilities.
  • Take chances! Explore something new, meet new people and consider a class or two outside your major. You might discover some interests you didn’t know you had and make a few friends along the way!
  • Let the Center for Leadership, Calling and Service (CLCS) help you. From Thomas, who works specifically to help first-generation students build community on campus, to counselors and tutors, the CLCS offers many resources to help you have a successful college career. Don’t hesitate to stop in and ask questions!

And finally, some advice from someone who understands what it’s like to be a first-gen student:

Dear First Generation Student,

First of all, congratulations! I know the feeling of being the first one in your family to attend college. Although it might be a little scary, you must feel so proud of yourself! As you begin this journey, don't ever forget that you are not alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Get yourself a mentor, ask them questions, and seek advice. It can get a little overwhelming (trust me—been there, done that).

Be true to yourself. Study hard, don't fall behind, but overall enjoy this new stage of your life. As you progress through your college years, remember to give thanks to those who helped you get there. Stay humble, call your family every once in a while, and thank God for all the opportunities He has delivered to you. You got this!

From a first generation student to another,

Zacnite Vargas
Trevecca student