5 Ways to overcome the pressures that comes with being a First-Generation College Students
If you thought High-School was tough wait until you start preparing to take a bite out of real life. Let me forewarn you that your collegiate experience will be bigger than the college you attend. Every experience, loss, failure, setback, success, and breakdown play in the new you that is being created daily in your collegiate journey. There was so much that was left out that I needed to know about navigating the landmines of being a newbie in the world of Higher Education.
Let me give you a stat to start off with that may put college in perspective. Only 40% of the people that comes into your class with you will finish in 4–6 years just on the Bachelorette level. Facts should scare only motivate.
In 27+ years of learning I have come to understand that education is a way of life. It’s not this euphoric moment that leads to a great job and prospects of a bright future. It’s about discovering who you are in relationship to the creator and what that means for the next 5–10 generations that will come after you are long gone.
As 1st generation college students’ challenges abound including isolation, invisibility, finances, coursework, frustration, discomfort, exhaustion, self-identity, and of course depression. From my experiences I realized that its ok to say no, move forward, and to trust in God’s divine timing. Things may not go as planned but never give up.
5 ways to overcome those early Jitters
Become the Nerd: At all costs avoid anything that doesn’t keep you on honor roll or the dean's list. The secret to college is being a nerd. Make the best grades and you will attract those that will rock with you long after the college phase is over. Connect, engage, and let people see that intellectual side of you. You will be glad that you did.
If College isn’t your thing leave now: This may fly in the face of convention but if believe that college is not working for you leave now. You don’t have the luxury to float through college even of you graduate and waste 4–6 years of your life playing chase the chicks. Do not run up a large financial aid bill either. You can always come back to school if you choose. Never make a bed you can’t lie in.
Graduate as a Group: Isolation is the new poverty even in college. Never allow your lack of emotional intelligence, fear, mental health, or lack of resources to stop you from getting with a group of 5 people and staying put until you graduate. Isolation will kill your self-esteem as it relates to your self-identity.
Network with students at other colleges: If you can explore about 5–10 colleges and get yourself acclimated to the bigger picture of Higher-Education. Never confine your bubble to your home college. Get out and explore. If you want to play it really big go to a IVY football game and meet 5 new people.
Find a Mentor Immediately: I don’t care you take a liking to a band director or the janitor. Connect yourself to someone who can give you some insight into walking that collegiate path. You will be surprised at who has the greatest insight into becoming a man throughout that process. Never second guess yourself and remain open to various learning lessons outside of your normal school. Education is bigger than the college you attend. It’s Life.
The educational landscape that you are about to walk into will be nothing like what you expect. Nobody can prepare you for what college will teach you about yourself and life. The greatest benefit in my experience of attending college was it taught me how to fail fast at life. My initial collegiate experiences were epic failures that happened to be the greatest feedback system. I needed to know where I stood as a student that didn’t have education served to me on a platter.
As you know, school comes much easier to some than others. I was the person that it comes to very hard. Education for many of my learning years was somewhat depressing. It was either too easy or too hard. I never found that middle ground for which I could assess my potential. Was I great student or not? When you first ascend into a college campus you need to know that 60% of the work should have already been completed.
If you are not treating high school like a full-time you will pay a heavy price on down the line. Navigating the failures is all about taking your time to assess the landscape of your new domain. Don’t be so giddy and rush into situations for which you are not called to. In higher education, you must find your tribe. I didn’t say fraternity. That’s fine and well but discovering who you are can happen outside of joining the fraternal ranks for girls, cool points, or networking.
Given this pandemic, you may find yourself in a hybrid model of learning and that’s ok. Online learning is something you should embrace as it will give you a real world look into who you are becoming. During my 8 years as an online student, I found out that it became a mirror into my soul. It taught me who I was and who I wasn’t. It was a very isolating experiencing but the best medicine for venturing out into a world that doesn’t respond to the real you.
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