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First-Generation Students: How to Find Colleges That Are Right for You

by Story2 Guest Author, on Mar 6, 2015 4:51:00 PM

Students compiling their college lists may often ask themselves “Where can I get in?” While this is an important question, we suggest students (especially first generation college students) think of it this way: “What services can the school provide for me?”  Thinking about how a school can best support you throughout your education can be the key to success both to and through college.

At College Greenlight, you can explore and connect with colleges that are looking for students just like you and want to make sure you are able to maximize your education.  While trying to figure out what college will be best for you, we recommend considering the following student support services and which ones can be the most helpful to you:

Multicultural Offices: On many college campuses, you’ll be able to find a Multicultural Affairs Office.  Here, you’ll be able to connect with cultural affinity groups, learn more about diversity initiatives at the school, find mentoring programs and learn more about cultural events going on around campus.

Summer Bridge Programs: The period transitioning from high school to college can have its challenges, whether it’s adjusting from being away from home, learning time management strategies, or simply making new friends.  Summer bridge programs are one way to help ease in to the college experience. These programs are usually on-campus offerings from colleges that often involve taking preparatory coursework, staying in dorms on campus, and events to get to experience the campus culture.  

First-Generation and Academic Advisors:  If you’re looking for some specific guidance as a first generation student, you may be able to find a college that has advisors meant specifically to help you.  Similarly, if you know what area of study you’re interested in, you may be able to find schools with advisors with specialties in those areas (especially if you’ll be in the STEM field.)

Financial Aid: Is a school a good fit financially?  Use our EFC (Expected Family Contribution) calculator to determine of a school can meet your aid needs.  If you’ve already been accepted, checking in with a school’s financial aid office and connecting to financial aid officers can help you to leverage an even more generous financial aid package.

Career Development Center: Being successful in college goes beyond just your time on campus. Check to see if there are career support centers to connect you with essential internships and mentor opportunities that will help you gain the skills and experience important for life after you graduate.  

Academic Support: Whether it’s writing an essay for an English 101 class or getting help with a tricky calculus problem, check to see what sort of academic support is available outside of the classroom.  Most schools will offer some sort of free tutoring, and many have entire writing centers and other academic support centers to get you help if you’re having trouble with a particular class. Taking time to put in the extra effort will not only help you learn, but look great to your professors, too.

Once you’ve decided what colleges have the support you think you’ll need, add them to your list! Log in to your Greenlight account to start keeping track of schools you plan to apply to. Using College Greenlight, you’ll be able to see if a school is a right fit for you based on your academics, your finances, and social interests. Find a school that looks right for you? Use College Greenlight to connect directly and add them to your college list!

Elizabeth Chereskin is Content Manager at College Greenlight. As Content Manager, Liz curates and maintains the College Greenlight blog, newsletters, and social media platforms to nurture meaningful communication with our students, counselors, advocates, and colleges. She has been with College Greenlight since January 2015, and is very excited to be a part of the College Greenlight team! She's a graduate of the University of Central Florida where she received a BA in English and also holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago.

Topics:college admission