Advice for first-generation college students

Congratulations! You’re a first-generation college student.

You’re blazing a new trail as the first person in your family to attend college. It is an amazing accomplishment. And while being “first” in anything means facing new challenges, you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources to guide you on this new journey. 

Here are some tips that will help you navigate this exciting next chapter in your life, including:

  • How to overcome “imposter syndrome”
  • Where to go for help
  • Important student services to know
  • Where to make friends
  • And more!

College is a whole new world.

No matter who you are, being new on campus can make anyone feel like a lost traveler. When entering a completely new stage of your journey, it is easy to let doubt creep in, “Do I really belong here?” The answer is YES. The first step to walking the walk is learning how to talk the talk. College has its own unique set of terms, and this glossary of admissions terms will help you navigate the process with confidence. And remember – every other new student will be trying to figure it out, same as you.

It’s OK to ask for help.

At the University of Cincinnati, we’re committed to recruiting a diverse and academically talented undergraduate student population. First-generation students make up approximately 25% of our current student body across all campuses. To ensure your success at UC, we have several different support services and opportunities available for first-generation students. From academic advising and financial aid, to student employment and family programs that keep the support systems of our students connected and engaged.

First-gen facts

  • 7,992 Bearcats are first-generation college students.
  • First-gen students represent 91 countries and 39 states.
  • 96% of UC first-gen students are employed or continuing their education upon graduation.

Build your community.

Signing up for student clubs and organizations is a great way to make friends who share similar interests as you. It’s also the best source to discover things like the places to eat around campus and where the best study spots are on campus.

Don’t agonize over your major — go with what you love.

As a Cincinnati student, you can study just about anything. UC offers hundreds of academic programs, all with opportunities for experience-based learning outside of the classroom. If you’re undecided, you can learn more about our Exploratory Studies program and the major selection process. Remember, everybody decides their major at their own pace. UC has support systems to help students throughout the process. 

Start exploring career options early.

Sometimes, you won’t know if you’ll like a certain job until you give it a try. UC’s top-ranked co-op and internship program helps students gain real-world experience during school by putting education into action. Co-op students rotate between semesters in class and semesters working paid, full-time jobs in their career field. This means students earn while they learn, and graduate with a degree and a full resume of experience in their field. 

Work hard, but remember to enjoy your college experience!

It can feel like a lot is riding on your shoulders as you start your college journey. But remember that college is a time to learn, explore and grow. Making friends, experiencing new things, and having fun is also a part of that process! UC has a ton of resources that are free and designed to support you in all these areas. 

You belong here.

At UC, we’re proud to support students blazing a new trail to become the first in their families to earn a college degree. From learning communities and special events, to dedicated programs and advisors, we want to make sure you succeed — and feel right at home.

Read more about our first-gen students.