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Being a first generation student means that you are part of the first generation in your family to go to college. For many students this is the case. My parents didn’t get the chance to attend college due to unforeseen circumstances that came about in their lives, but thankfully they provided me with all the resources necessary and supported me so that I could be able to attend college. Throughout the application process I tried to take advantage of all the help my EMERGE college counselors offered me. EMERGE was a program that supported me and still continues to support me now that I am in college, but the reality of it all is that not everyone gets these opportunities like I did. 

While the application process felt so long and became irritating, given that I had little to no knowledge on how to go about applying, I had a lot of people who supported me and tried to give me the best help they could. For some students, this isn’t the case. There are so many first-generation students who don’t get enough support or help and this has to change. 

There are so many students with so much potential but more than often they are overlooked and not given the help they deserve. There should be more opportunities offered for these first-generation students so they too can succeed. There is so much more than just simply going about filling out the application for the colleges of your choice. You must fill out FAFSA and then applications for scholarships, take the ACT or SAT, and submit or send out any necessary paperwork the school may ask you for (like your transcript, any transferred credits, or any signature pages). 

High schools tend to downplay the process and just tell you to apply for the colleges but there is sometimes little to no guidance given or offered to the students. On top of that there are situations in which students are undocumented or their parents are undocumented which leads to problems with filling out the FAFSA due to the potential lack of taxes being filed or problems with their parents’ social. I know these things can cause the application process to become even more overwhelming and students deserve to get help when they encounter these obstacles.  

All this to say, that first-generation students deserve all the recognition for pushing through and getting to the colleges they got accepted into. Also, more opportunities must begin to be given for those students that are considered first-gen and will begin or are currently going through the application process. 

Some tips for those who are first-gen

If you are a first-gen some things that can help the application process ease a little bit for you can be filling out FAFSA first. If your parents didn’t file their taxes, get the non-tax filer forms from the schools of your choice and fill out the fafsa as necessary. (Every student who didn’t file for taxes will also need the non-tax filer forms). Another thing is for those undocumented students that will be applying for college, remember that you must fill out TAFSA rather than FAFSA. I also advise that you make a personal statement before filling out the applications and that way when you fill out the apps you can just copy and paste it there. Once you have your personal statement go ahead and fill out the applications for your safe schools (which are the schools you will more than likely be accepted into or the ones you meet most if not all criteria for). Once you fill out the safe schools just copy and paste the application for the other ones (also remember to answer any further questions or try to complete the optional essays to make your application look well rounded). Hope this helped and wish you all the best of luck!

Frida is a second-year neuroscience major at The University of Texas at Austin. She is from Houston, Texas. She enjoys painting, connecting with nature, and doing tarot readings!
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