Top 5 Things I Wish I’d Known as a First-Generation College Student

I was a first generation college student. My mom never finished high school, and my dad got his GED. I had no older siblings, and no close relatives who had completed college, either. So when it came to picking a college, applying, getting financial aid, and generally navigating the “college experience,” I was basically flying blind. Still, I was lucky; my parents were extremely supportive, giving me the time and space and emotional support to do what I needed to do. While they couldn’t give me much advice on the technicalities of getting through college, they were always willing to help out however they could. Not everyone has as much support as I did.

But there are many, many things I wished that I had known before I started college and as I made my way through those four years. While I could probably write an entire book on the Things I Wished I Knew, I have decided to narrow some more important points down for this post.

So, whether you are a first-generation student like I was or just someone who is looking for a little bit of advice on navigating the murky college waters, I present to you my Top 5 Things I Wished I’d Known as a First Generation College Student.

Continue reading

How to Study Abroad

by not making the same mistakes I did.

So you want to study abroad. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of perfecting your French in Paris, or studying Pride and Prejudice near the birthplace of Jane Austen. You are not alone. Many, many college students dream of studying abroad, and each year thousands of students pack their bags and head overseas.

Once upon a time (okay, like three years ago) I was planning on studying abroad. I got pretty far into the application process, but because of a few, very avoidable mistakes, it ended up not working out. The problem for me was that, as a first-generation college student from a working-class family, I didn’t know anyone who had studied abroad before, and I was hopelessly lost when it came to making the kinds of decisions and doing the sort of planning that you have to do in order to study abroad.

I did learn a lot from this ordeal, though, and today I want to share what I learned with you in hopes that it will help you to get on that plane and make those study abroad dreams a reality. But please remember, I am by no means an expert. These are just some things that I picked up when I was trying to arrange my own study abroad. Every experience is different, and your experience with study abroad may be very different from what I talk about here. At the bottom of this post, I have included some links to other resources to help you in your plans.

(Please note: All of the information here is primarily intended for US college students. I don’t know how much of this will apply to students outside of the US.)

Continue reading