The Challenges of Being a First-Generation College Student

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

The Challenges of Being a First-Generation College Student

Did your parents complete a college course? If not, you, in most institutions’ definitions, would be a first-generation college student once you enrol. While it could be exciting that you are the first in the family to hit such an academic milestone, the challenge can be overwhelming. While every first-year college student struggles to adjust, you’ll face additional troubles as a first-generation college student. Many succumb to and continue the cycle of not completing a college course. Among such changes includes the following:

Psychological challenges

Guilt and shame are often seen in first-generation college students. While achieving the milestone is personally fulfilling, you can easily feel guilty that you are at a point no one in your family has managed to, especially parents you respect and look up to. First-gen college students also tend to feel like they are abandoning their community, especially when no one in their immediate family has attended college.

Imposter syndrome is also a common psychological concern. You may feel like you don’t belong in college since your parent didn’t go, making it harder to fit in with the rest. The guilt and shame can take a turn on the students, leading to stress, anxiety, and, if unchecked, depression. The emotional load can easily spiral, more so when struggling to fit in, meaning fewer, if any, friends. Psychological challenges can be solved by measures such as talking to your college counsellor, making it easier to navigate unchartered territory.

Navigational issues

Students whose parents went to college enjoy an advantage from the experiences shared. While parents were in college a while back and a lot has changed, the input, such as how to thrive in dorms and manage academic and social life, makes a difference. Such input gives them a head start as they begin college life, which is much more chaotic for first-gen college students. This means it takes them longer to adjust, which impacts their academic, social, and financial college life. First-gen students can alleviate the navigational load by levering college resources to navigate the new system, talk to other first-gen students, and remain focused on what matters the most.

Academic hardships

Academic challenges affect every student, but first-gen college students have it much tougher. They, for starters, take a long to adjust to the new life as they figure everything out on their own, which drags their academic progress. After that, they still have a lot to navigate, including effective time management and sources of practical college education support since they can hardy turn to their immediate family and are likely not to have yet developed a supportive rapport in school. The good news is that finding reliable academic support is much easier in the modern arena. For instance, you can easily access digital academic help services. Go online and search “help with my homework,” You’ll find a rich pool of professional services ready to hold your hand. With such help, you’ll have more time to figure things out and enjoy a smoother college experience.

Lack of adequate support

Your parents/guardians have limited knowledge of college dynamics. This means they can hardly anticipate your needs, and even when you ask for help, they may not offer as much financial, academic, to emotional support. They may not understand the magnitude of the pressure college life puts you under, meaning they may not easily find the right words to keep you encouraged. You can alleviate this challenge by being open to working with mentors. Mentors provide more support which can help them stay on track and thrive under the anxieties and pressures of college.

First-generation college students may not have much going on compared to their peers equipped with rich experiences by their parents. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean they are doomed, especially in the modern digital arena, where you can find extensive resources to help you prepare for the new challenges ahead, get ongoing support, and connect with more people dealing with similar difficulties for inspiration to keep going.