How to Survive the First Semester for First-Generation Students

The first semester settling into college can be an arduous shift for all students. Beginning with finding friends, getting along with roommates, Financial Aid, and balancing your schedule etc., it is an intimidating journey, and It is even more challenging for first-generation students venturing through college without assistance. As the college pioneer of my family, my first semester was exhausting, and I wish I had more guidance when I geared up to move on campus. So, I came up with five tips that I found to be most useful for prospective first-generation college students living on campus.  

  1. Creating a comfortable living space  

When I first moved into my dorm, I was not into the idea of decorations because I firmly believed that I was only there for studies and where I slept did not matter. However, this changed when I found myself spending more time in my dorm and I felt extremely homesick. Little by little, I put up pictures of my friends, family, brought my favorite books, paintings, and even came to mutual standing with my roommate; I continued to make a space where I felt comfortable and homely. Creating a friendly space for yourself is essential while living two dreadful semesters on campus.  

  1. Let Go of Guilt

Beginning of my fall semester I constantly felt guilty for leaving my family behind. Although, they are fine on their own, as the oldest child, I always sensed I had the responsibility to guide my younger siblings and help around the house. But, calling my family to check up on them at least three times a week was helpful; I realized that they were all right, thus, I could focus on my educational pursuits. This also helped my worried mother feels better about me living on campus. So, Value your college education and do not forget to call your family.  

  1. Choose Friends Wisely  

In a small liberal arts campus, I felt a lot of pressure to find friends in the first few weeks of college. It is fine to take your time to explore, see who you fit in with but, make sure you choose wisely. Find friends that keep you at ease and make you feel grounded.    

  1. Use Resources  

Whether it is reapplying for FAFSA, finding tutors, studying abroad etc., colleges have resources that are available for students. Use them. Find an advisor and ask upperclassmen to be your mentor. Advice from people who have lived through the experience can be extremely helpful. There are plenty of resources and people willing to help, do not be scared to ask questions.  

  1. Give Yourself a Break  

Demanding classes, clubs, activities, social life and parties can drain your energy. Find time for self to reflect and take care of your mental health. This can be taking a nap, meditating, working out, going for a walk or anything to calm your mind. Mental health should be your top priority.   

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself and still commit to your academic goals first. Good Luck!