Did your parents go to college? Did your parents go to college but didn’t graduate?

If you answered no to the first question and plan to go to college, you will be a first generation college student. If you answered yes to the second question and plan to go college, you will be a first generation college student.

A first generation college student is a college student that is the first in his or her family to attend and graduate from college. If you are going to a first generation college student, I have some special advice for you.

Ask for help and ask for it early.

The college application process is unknown to you and your parents. Even though the college application process seems simple, there are so many hidden tips and tricks to the process. Talk to your school guidance counselor about what the college application process requires and what you should be doing. Seek advice from adults you know who have gone to college- family friends, neighbors, people in your faith community, parents of friends, etc. And most importantly, have these conversations early like your freshmen or sophomore year in high school. To get the best outcome for you, you need to start planning early, so seek help early.

There are scholarships available for you.

There are scholarships for first generation college students. Do a Google search for them and apply to them even if they are a nationwide scholarship. The number of first generation college students is small enough where the odds are in your favor.

There are college and university programs dedicated to help you succeed.

When you get to college don’t think you’re on your own. There are programs at universities designed to help first generation college students with academic advising, professional development, study habits, and skills you need in college and in the real world. In your college search, I encourage to ask about and look for these programs. Furthermore, I think you should make these programs deciding factors in your college decision process.

The college application process can be tricky at times even more so if you’re a first generation college student. Empower yourself with as much knowledge as possible.