Tips for Success if You’re the First in Your Family to Attend College

Going to college is a big step for any student—but if you’re a first-generation college student, you may have some extra questions.

Here’s the great news: You are not alone. In fact, 44% of FRCC students are the first in their family to go to college!

You have a lot of support and people behind you at FRCC. Here are a few tips on how to make your dreams of earning a college degree come true…

Get Academic Support

One of the biggest challenges for first-generation students is that you may not have anyone in your family to help guide you. So you may be unsure of what resources we have here at FRCC to help you succeed in school.

You’ve gotten this far and that shows you’re able to ask for help and find answers. Keep going! Keep advocating for yourself by asking questions—and remember that there are many resources and support services to help you.

Who Can Help Me Be Successful?

The Student Success Center at FRCC's Boulder County Campus
  • Check out TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded program that gives first-generation, limited-income students, and/or those with a documented disability wraparound support. In other words, TRIO is all about academic, personal and professional growth—and they’ll help you navigate financial aid and financial literacy too.
  • Explore the Academic Support Center on your campus for help with writing papers, understanding math, learning to study, getting a tutor and more. If you join TRIO, they’ll help you navigate these services too.
  • Reach out to the Disability Support Services office if you need an accommodation (or suspect you have an unaddressed issue). If you had any 504 accommodations in high school, they don’t roll over to college—so this office can help you make sure you get the help and guidance you need.

Getting Support Leads to Success

April Rosas, a TRIO alum, graduated from FRCC in 2021 with her Associate of Science degree and certificates in certified nurse aide, phlebotomy and healthcare customer service. She says FRCC’s support resources were invaluable.

“As a first-generation, Latina college student, I had to figure everything out on my own,” says April, now a Colorado State University student majoring in human development and family studies with a pre-health professions concentration.

She got tutoring and went to the writing center and the math lab when she was at FRCC.

“At first, I was embarrassed because I didn’t want to look stupid, but when I realized that these resources would help me get good grades and pass my classes, that went away.”

“I would say to others, ‘Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because if you don’t ask, you’ll never know the answer. And the resources provided are meant to help you.’”

Find Your People

You might feel intimidated going to college, but there are others on campus who feel exactly like you do: excited about college, nervous about whether they have what it takes to do well—and even worried that they don’t belong.

Rest assured, FRCC is a very welcoming environment, and chances are, if you get involved in a club or start exploring the resources that are available to you, you’ll meet some great people and start to feel a lot more comfortable.

Build Your At-Home Support System Too

If the people in your life have questions about your college goals, sit down with them. Tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing, and what you hope to gain from your degree. Explain why this is important to you and how their support will help you succeed.

Be Ready to Work

As you may already know, college isn’t easy, but you can do it. The workload is heavier than high school, the expectations are higher and the stakes are bigger!

Set yourself up for success with good habits and practices. Stay organized by keeping your planner updated and recording all important dates in it: upcoming tests, upcoming quizzes, project due dates and more.

And manage your time wisely. Prioritize your homework every night and build in time for things like attending class, work, family, and even sleep and mealtimes. Don’t succumb to procrastination—in the end, it will only cause you stress and hurt your grades.

Become Besties With the Financial Aid Office

They’ll help you figure out how to pay for college and make it affordable. One of the biggest misconceptions among first-generation students is that college isn’t “for them” because it is too expensive. The reality is, you belong here and there are many ways to reduce the cost of college. And the investment in your education is worthwhile in the long run (and in the short run too).

Having a degree will help you to earn more and expand your career options. You might qualify for discounted tuition, scholarships, work-study options and grants. And there are low-interest loans available as well.

Use Our Free Counseling and Stress Management Services

FRCC student Mandy Scanlon has an important piece of advice for first-generation students: Take care of your mental health.

“I think many first-generation students don’t have access to things like counseling in their lives,” says Mandy, an Associate of Arts student who hopes to transfer to the University of Northern Colorado to major in American Sign Language-English interpreting. “But at FRCC, students get six free sessions a semester with a therapist.”

“Mental health should be a priority for all students, because when you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s hard to do well academically.”

“For me, that’s been an important part of my FRCC journey. I am taking advantage of all of these resources that TRIO and FRCC offer so that I can do my best.”

You can start by checking out FRCC’s counseling and stress management information—and if you’re ready, reach out to one of our counselors.

TRIO—A Great Place to Start

If you’re a first-generation student and you could use a little support—or you’d like to know what support is even available at FRCC and in your community—contact the TRIO Student Support Services team.

They’ll help you (or direct you to someone who can) so that you can make your college journey the best it can be. Everyone who works at FRCC loves to help students and they look forward to answering your questions.

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