Dr. Ciera Graham
City of Seattle
Being the first in your family to apply to and attend college can bring many questions and anxieties. Whether you’re starting at a community college or four-year university, being the first to pursue higher education can instill a sense of pride in both you and your family. As a college student, you’ll encounter challenges from meeting new peers, living in a new space, taking higher-level courses, and balancing the demands of school, work, and home life. But there are plenty of resources out there to support your transition to the college environment. Here are a few key people who can help you with the process.
- Your school counselor: Every student should have a high school counselor to help them navigate the high school journey. This person is also here to provide you with transitional support as you think about your career goals, create your college list, and prepare for the application process.
- Your college and career center: Some high schools may also have a college and career center that helps students apply and plan for college. These centers typically also host college fairs and tours. Visit your school’s center and inquire about opportunities to visit colleges.
- Your teachers: While their primary goal is to teach a particular subject, most teachers are also invested in your success. Consider asking if they have time to have a conversation so you can learn about college culture and how to succeed when you get there. They can also serve as a great reference for you by writing a recommendation letter.
- Admission counselors at colleges: Admission counselors play an extraordinary role in helping guide high school students through the application and enrollment process. They can also help connect you to financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Once you have your list of schools identified, contact the admission office at each one and see what support they provide to high school students. They may even offer resources just for first-generation students.
As the first person in your family to go to college, don’t feel as if you must prepare alone. There are plenty of people available to support you throughout this journey—you just have to be willing to take the first step in connecting with them.
Looking for more comprehensive advice on getting through the admission process? Check out our article First-Gen Students: How to Navigate the College Search to arm yourself with knowledge.