Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

How I Survived College Admissions as a First-Generation College Student

As many people know, college admissions can be one of the most daunting parts of the whole college process. It’s even harder going in as a first-generation college student due to the lack of guidance and the high expectations. I am a first gen and this is my story of college admissions.

I come from a family made up of a law enforcement officer as a father and an emergency dispatcher for a mother, both of whom did not attend college and went straight into the workforce. I knew that the college admissions’ game would be hard, but I never expected what I encountered. Between the crazy deadlines and all the scholarship work, I sometimes felt like there was no end to the college admissions game. Here are my tips to surviving college admissions:

Tip #1: Make multiple deadlines    

Deadlines were one of my most hated things during the whole process. I always had about two different deadlines for every part of the process; a rough draft and then the actual deadline. I cannot state enough that multiple deadlines will help you stay on track. Keep one deadline made specifically for a first draft so that you have a base to work off. Then, have an actual deadline so that you have plenty of time to go back and fix any mistakes that you may have made.

Tip #2: Have someone else read everything you plan to send in

My parents liked to read almost everything I did beforehand, and honestly most of the time this helped a lot. They were able to pick out most of the little errors and help me correct them. Proofreading is something that was a major help when it came to scholarship essays and admissions papers.

Tip #3: Talk to your counselors

Many times I had questions that my parents could not answer. Even the simplest questions I had clarified by my counselor just to be safe. Although I know it may seem embarrassing to have to go and ask for help, it never is. They’re there to help you when you have no clue what you are doing. One of the most frustrating things for me was when my parents and I would spend hours trying to get one thing done and I would go to my guidance counselor the next day and within 10 minutes she would have it resolved.

My advice to incoming first-generation students is to take advantage of your resources. Although your parents may not be able to help as much, you still have plenty of resources to get you through it. So to my fellow first gen’s — good luck!


Autumn is a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Forensic Science with a concentration in Biology and minors in Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry. She has an addiction to Starbucks and Panera Mac and Cheese and can usually be found with her nose in a book during her free time. She is also an active member of VCU's Rowdy Rams and the Forensic Science Student Club. In her free time, she loves to watch movies and hang out with her friends and family; including her beloved dog, Jake.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️