My first YouTube appearance (as an education professional) is now LIVE!!! Of course, I’m always critical of myself (lol), and I’m not much of a “TV” personality, but it was great to be featured on Yolanda Norman’s (known as @FirstGenCollege on Twitter) show called, #YouBelong on FirstGenCollegeTV. On the show, I give helpful advice to students who are first generation college students (from a professor’s perspective).
While recording, there was so much I wanted to say… from not knowing how to fill out a FAFSA application, how to enroll in my courses, or being in fear as to how I would pay for my tuition or room and board– I was there once. As a college freshman, I arrived on campus, not fully knowing how I would carry out my plan to obtain a degree. Thankfully, I made my dream come true, and now I have dedicated my life to help others that are in the same shoes I was in.
The main piece of advice that I give first generation college students is that they are not alone. Yes, you might have additional challenges, but you are not the only one who ever experienced being the only one in your family to attend college. I encourage students to make sure someone knows you are present on campus. Develop a network that you can lean on for help. You need a network of peers, and at least ONE professional on the campus to look out for you to ensure you will be successful.
My current students have recently been surprised as to how most college students are much more “mature” and “calmer” than they were in high school. They are now realizing that they hold the keys to their success, and I enjoy seeing them excited about their new found independence. I teach a College Success Course, and there are a few things that I mention to students every semester:
- “But in High school…”: You have a fresh start…leave any distractions that you encountered in high school. However, please make sure you MOVE ON. Don’t use your past circumstances as an excuse.
- SPEAK UP: Your professors might seem intimidating, but chances are they are delighted when you take steps to become an active learner. Go ask for help. See professors during their office hours. Ask how you can IMPROVE in areas that you feel you struggle in.
- You live and learn: It’s okay to not know something in college. Yes, you are more independent, and you are responsible for more aspects of your learning and its process, but you still should not be afraid to learn from others, ask for help, and become interdependent.
- Appreciate and learn from diversity: As college freshman, you are all in the same boat. However, you didn’t come in on the same boat. Learn from the experiences of your peers and your professors. Share your experiences as well.
- You are responsible: Your education is YOUR responsibility–you are considered an adult, and you are expected to be ACTIVE in your learning.
- Education is a blessing and a privilege: It is a choice that you make when you further your education, and it is a privilege. On the darkest (the worst) days in college, remind yourself of where you have come from. Remind yourself of how many people wish they could have the same opportunity.
I have double strikes against me– I was a first generation college student AND I am now a first generation professor. I don’t have family members to lean on to help me grow in my career. I am still learning how to network, and learning the culture of higher education. I often struggle with not being viewed as the “traditional” professor. I am still getting used to the role of “professor” and being a part of a college faculty. I was honored that I was asked to share my opinions and knowledge. This video has caught me in the midst of the evolving process, and it is a great way to see the journey- how far I’ve come, and how far still I need to go.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to be the first guest on #YouBelong. I appreciate being in a profession that allows me to grow personally, as well as inspire others.
View the show, and please LIKE and share with others: