If you’re the first person in your family to go to college, congratulations! It takes perseverance and bravery to blaze your own trail and pursue this dream. You’ve worked hard to get here, so make sure you give college your all.

Here are six tips for success as a first-gen college student:

Build a support system.

There is a whole lot of “new” in college, and there will be times when you need to lean on others: friends, classmates and family members. Put yourself out there. Find people in your new environment with whom you have common interests or values—and foster those connections.

Don’t forget to continue to cultivate the relationships that have gotten you where you are today. (Think about who your biggest cheerleaders. This might mean your family and longtime friends, former teachers or other people in your life). Stay in touch with these supporters.

Join a club.

Speaking of getting to know others, one of the best ways to meet new people—while also developing your leadership skills and giving your resume a boost—is to get involved in one or more student organizations. There are many to choose from at each FRCC campus.

Visit the Student Life Office to find out about all your options. Try something new—or pursue a club or organization in an area in which you’re already experienced and passionate. Getting involved will help you learn, grow and connect with other people in this new campus community.

Explore any programs for first-generation students.

Your advisor will know if there are academic programs or other opportunities tailored for you as a first-gen student. For example, FRCC’s Bridges to Baccalaureate (available at the Larimer Campus) is a National Institutes of Health-funded program that helps first-generation and other college students earn bachelor’s degrees in biomedical or behavioral sciences at Colorado State University. At our Westminster Campus, the TRIO program (funded by a large federal grant) provides support services specifically for students who are the first in their family to attend college.

Take advantage of the resources available to you.

College can be overwhelming even for those who have parents and older siblings who have paved the way for them. If the college environment is completely new to you and you don’t have a family member to help guide you, you might need assistance and advice from time to time. Here at FRCC, there are many learning resources and support services available. Explore the Academic Success Centers where you can get tutoring help and more. Do you struggle with learning? Reach out to the Disability Support Services office, which can help you determine if there something going on behind the scenes.

Stay in touch with the Financial Aid Office.

Paying for college can be daunting and a little mystifying. Even if you got up to speed as you applied to college, it’s worth getting to know the friendly folks in the Financial Aid office. They can help you make sure you are working through the financial aid process diligently, without missing anything. There might be scholarships for which you are eligible, and it’s important to stay on top of annual deadlines for things like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Stay organized.

College course work is challenging, and achieving academic success requires you to step things up. It’s easy to fall behind and let the to-dos pile up when there is so work to do—and much fun to be had! Establish good study and organizational habits from the get-go. Check out this blog on getting organized and this one on time management.

Above all else, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people in college who want to see you succeed. You’ve come this far—keep up the effort and believe in yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be approaching graduation!

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