First Generation College Scaries

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To all the first generation students out there who feel like something is holding them back, this one is for you. At University Park alone, there are over 16,000 students who are classified as first generation, or the first in their family to attend college. While entering college is an already dizzying experience for all, first generation students face a unique experience that can be hard to manage without recognition or support.

Imposter Syndrome

This feeling runs deep. It is a common phenomenon described as the inability to internalize success, leading to ideas of feeling like fraud and feeling out of place. Subconsciously, college breeds symptoms of imposter syndrome that makes you doubt why you ever left home. Being the first in your family to receive a college education puts an extra weight to succeed, and that pressure can be suffocating. These are some facts that cannot be argued:

  • You got into college on your own merit.
  • You can do as well as the person whose parents are college educated.
  • You never have to prove yourself to anyone, ever.
  • College is a clean slate. Make it what you want it to be.

Once you start believing these, things will fall into place.

Positive Affirmations and Being Independent

You cannot control the life you that you were born in. Just like anyone else, you also deserve to take control of your own life and create your own experiences. Feeling guilty of leaving home and the people behind just shows a selfless nature that is a gift to have — but the people you leave behind want you to be happy. Freeing yourself from the guilt is not an easy thing to do, but remind yourself everyday that you are a singular person and do not exist for other people to thrive.

Here are three positive affirmations to say daily, via the Huffington Post.

“I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.”

” I have been given endless talents which I begin to utilize today.”

“I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful.”

There is a list of affirmations to choose from to remind yourself of your greatness, or you could always create your own. Do what it takes to stop feeling like an imposter and to start feeling like the blueprint (cheesy, but true).

Do Not Go Through This Alone

The first generation experience is unique to all students, so there truly is no wrong or right way to navigate college. To some, being a first gen is not a big deal lives and that fact lives in the back of their mind. To others, it is on forefront of their mind constantly. No matter how it affects a person, the general consensus that being a first gen is not talked about enough. The nuances are swept under the rug and not openly talked about because it is either not a big deal or because it is embarrassing. Neither of those are true. Being a first gen is not just a positive thing, but it is also not something to ignore.

If you are feeling lost, start talking to your counselor. The thing with being a first gen student is not knowing what you don’t even know. Counselors are equipped to know everything about college, whether that be classes, internships, housing, career planning or anything else that falls in-between.

Making friends who are in the same position is also one of the most relieving experiences. You would be surprised to know how many people you know are first gen’s, and they also have no idea what they are doing. Who really knows, in fact? Finding a small community can provide that much needed guidance.

While there are so many barriers when it comes to being a first generation student, you do not have to succumb to a statistic of failure. Seeking out the ways to overcome generational barriers starts with you. This is the much needed push you should hear. VALLEY is here to validate your experiences, emotions and frustrations. Believe it, VALLEY knows it is not an easy thing to be left stranded in a strange place that is college.

If anyone has something negative to say about that, then send them to the @VALLEYmag Instagram to hash it out and your honor will be defended, trust.


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