First-Gen College Student Check-in

Hey, babe, how have you been? How is the first, second, or even 8th semester going for you? Are your grades good? Are your friends great to be around? Have you had any amazing professors you just love to sit down and chat with? Maybe not. That is okay. Sometimes, especially now, it just matters that you and your family are safe and doing well, physically, economically, whatever. 

How is staying on campus? Maybe you are not. I am not either, and I never did. Something that can be common among First-Gen students. Are you still involving yourself with organizations on campus? It is good to build your resume, and kind of “easier,” to do it now that a bunch of organizations are on Zoom. Have you been reaching out to your professors to ask for any opportunities? Maybe helping them with their research, or asking them to assist you in your own research idea? Send them an email about any internship or job opportunities. They will be happy to offer advice. 

Have you been making yourself known to your professor? That might be a good idea for networking. Send them emails offering your extra thoughts on the coursework. I have found out professors love students who are actively thinking about the readings or lectures they give. Maybe the conversations will be mentally stimulating, and if not, do what you have to to connect with your professors. If you have no thoughts and find the coursework challenging, stop in their office-hours and show yourself as interested, engaged, and passionate about the material. Something that I have learned from experience is that professors love to offer students opportunities, or connect them with others who will. Get your foot in the door. 

Have you been looking at steps after Mason? Maybe it is some more years at Mason, always a good choice. Maybe it is a job or an internship? Amazing. Maybe it is taking a year or some off? That sounds perfect, too. Just make sure that if you can, you are planning and sorting all that out as soon as you can. It is helpful to get a head start on applications or testing if you are able to. Stop by an academic advisor’s office even if you just want to talk about your future. It is also okay to be clueless about how all the different paths and applications work. Ask them explicitly to explain it to you and offer resources. 

Have you connected with other First-Gen students? That is always helpful. Whether you want someone to rant to, someone to give you personalized advice, or just someone to understand you. Try involving yourself with the First-Gen organization on campus. 

How are you? How is college for you? It is okay to feel like an imposter, and it is also okay to excel at everything and involve yourself in all aspects of college life. It is alright to feel disconnected from your parents or family, to feel some weird kind of guilt about being “more educated” or having more opportunities than your parents. It is a lonely feeling but you are not alone. I hope you are not having too many of those thoughts. If you can, focus on how this path might be your parent’s dream. A piece of advice a now-adult First-Gen student gave me is that these feelings are, more often than not, sentiments that your parents or family is not feeling. Your guilt about being “better,” than them is not reflected or felt by your parents. It sounds annoying, but a lot of it could be in your head. Try and ground yourself if you can and focus what is really on hand, whatever that may be. 

Seek therapy if you feel you need to. There are trained ones offered by Mason. First-Gen students often need to pay special attention to our mental health. No shame in it. If anything, look at it as a way to better equip yourself as a student, adult, or even future employee (or employer).

Whatever you are doing, you are doing great. You know, follow the basic advice of networking, gaining experience, getting your foot in whatever door, and look ahead. But other than that, I just wanted to stop by and check-in. I liked this, too. It is good to connect with other students. We- you- are not alone, and whatever you have done up until this point has been absolutely amazing and so admirable. Look at us! Be proud. 

Love you, chat later!