3 pieces of advice from a first-gen student
Kristen Ago ’19 shares her top three pieces of advice for first-generation college students:
- Seek mentorship. Build relationships with professors who are honest, compassionate, daring and deserving of your trust— ones who not only seek to understand who you are and where you come from, but ones who actively partake in nurturing your growth by constantly challenging your perspective. If they can make you laugh on a bad day AND give you tips on how to deal with your time-management/procrastination issues… they’re a keeper! Seriously, ask for those 1-on-1s. Their support will transform your college experience. PS. Don’t forget to ask them about the GRE and where the Career Exploration Center is.
- Never dim your light so others can shine. If and when you begin to feel insecure about your capabilities as a student at Denison, remind yourself that you are the one who brought yourself to where you are today. Take initiative to participate in class discussions fearlessly and unapologetically because you deserve to be seen and heard. Always remember that you deserve to there just as much as anyone else, if not more.
- Embrace and celebrate uncertainty — Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” when your relatives ask you what your major is at the next family gathering. It is okay to not know yet. You may find yourself trying to invoke a cheerful reaction by responding with the answer they want to hear, avoiding judgement or unwanted advice.
Our experiences as first-gens are unique to our non-first-gen peers because we do not have the luxury of being uncertain. The expectations are high and we refuse to disappoint our families. While no one can prepare us for our return home — the disconnection and lack of understanding we might feel — it is up to us whether we choose to embrace the opportunity we’ve been given by exploring a multitude of potential passions or remain complacent in a journey that will shape our lives.