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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

First generation

When neither of your parents finished college, being the first to pursue a four-year university can be daunting. Not only because getting to college was already a struggle in itself considering all the maneuvering it took to get through APs, ACT/SAT testing, and applying when you had no guidance, but because the waters of college are all the more treacherous to navigate on your own.

All these resources I discuss are not solely for first generation-students but are helpful to any and all incoming students. I speak from personal experience as a first-generation student so please be compassionate as some things that may seem self-explanatory for you may not be for others.

Dorms vs Apartments

I automatically assumed dorms were the more affordable option for housing, because why would I willingly choose communal bathrooms, obnoxiously loud boy neighbors, and a tiny room with 3 people living like hamsters over an apartment? I landed in a triple my first in-person year at UCSB and figured it was a plus because I’d save money living in a triple in comparison to that of a double, and especially a single. However, it was not until I got a university apartment in my 3rd year at UCSB that I realized I got scammed—big time. I want to disclaim that this may not be the case for every situation, but it sure as hell was for me. Living in the dorms was thousands more than living in apartments. Why? Two words: meal plan.

At UCSB, and I’m sure for other colleges too, the cost of dorms requires you to pay for some type of meal plan; you may choose the number of meals, but opting out of them is not a choice. This is what makes dorm life so expensive. My advice is to lay out how much the dorms will cost, and put that in comparison to renting a spot in an apartment.

Factor in the possibility that you could apply to CalFresh when making this decision. I definitely was not eating nearly as much as I was paying for with my meal plan. Sure, it’s convenient, but not worth it. I don’t feel like not having to worry about meal prepping, making food, and cleaning up significantly opened up more time for me to focus on my studies, and I honestly missed being able to cook for myself and be in control of what I would eat, and the quality of what I was eating.

That said, I don’t think dorms are a necessary part of the “college experience.” Even if it is, I wouldn’t be upset if I had missed out on that aspect.

Basic Needs Resources & Calfresh

There are resources on campus that can help with CalFresh, a federal food assistance program that can grant you up to $281 a month for groceries. At UCSB, you can visit the Basic Needs Resources for not only help with CalFresh but other resources for food, housing, finances, well-being, technology, and academics. However, if you live in the dorms, chances are you cannot get CalFresh because having 10 meals or more a week from the dining hall automatically disqualifies you.

If I had known and gone to these resources earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of money. I didn’t know that if you don’t have a laptop, they can loan you one, and if you do have a laptop or another form of tech, they provide repairs and services, all for free.

CLAS (Campus Learning Assistance Services)

Get free tutoring at CLAS! They offer both in-person and online tutoring options which provide the perfect flexibility for student schedules. You can go to group study sessions as well if the one-on-one is nerve-wracking. The primary courses they provide services for include biology, chemistry, math, physics, economics, and statistics. This is a great supplementary resource you can use for classes you need a little extra TLC with, especially if the course’s section and office hours aren’t flexible, or just aren’t suiting your needs.

CAPS (Counseling and psychological services)

Another amazing resource is CAPS, a free 24/7 counseling for students. The costs of counseling are covered through UCSB’s university fees and they offer single-session therapy, short-term counseling, long-term counseling, tele-therapy, group counseling, and ADHD screenings. They have licensed psychologists alongside stress peer advisors. With these services, they provide personal, individual, and confidential support.

If you have university insurance otherwise known as UCSHIP, they can further connect you to free therapy with your preference concerning your plan: short-term, long-term, single sessions, and more.

career services

Career services is a great place to get familiar with right when you get on campus. Time goes by quickly, so ensuring you plan ahead for things like internships, grad school, career options, and the like is a great way to start. They can help you find jobs and internships, and help with navigating your life after college. Don’t have a resume? Go to their workshop. Unsure about networking? Attend their training sessions! As with all services mentioned above, their propriety is providing you with the help and resources you need.

dsp (disabled students program)

Last—but certainly not least—are the DSP services on campus. With a great group of peer mentors, the DSP crew ensures students with disabilities who attend UCSB will be supported during the entirety of their academic journey. After registering with DSP you can request exam accommodations, note-taking services, reading/E-text services, and dictation and transcription resources. Also, peer mentors are always an amazing source to obtain some extra support and talk if you need further assistance.

These are not the only services provided on campus, and how helpful they are is subjective to each student. However, these are the handful I particularly wish I knew about and started taking advantage of in my first year, not at the end of my third.

Kristi is a third-year at UCSB studying sociology and history with a minor in feminist studies. In her spare time, you can find her trying to revive her peace lily, looking at photos of her dog, or watching benjiplant.