As a first-generation college student, post-secondary education may have not entered your mind until your guidance counselor asked you what your plans after high school were. You may or may not have been brought up in a household that supported educational pursuits.

"Going to college without guidance can be daunting…I completely understand...”

It is also possible that you had very supportive parents but they didn’t know how to guide you. Going to college without guidance can be daunting. It is like learning how to swim with the fear of drowning always in the back of your mind. I completely understand what it is like because I was there not so long ago myself.     

Stephanie Davison

My name is Stephanie and I am a proud first-generation college student. I grew up in a small city in Illinois and I remember being scared about going to college because there were many unknowns. How am I going to fund my education? What scholarships are available to me? How can I be successful in a large lecture class of 250 plus students? Should I go for an associate's or a bachelor’s degree? What is the difference between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science? How do I even fill out the FAFSA form? What does it mean to live “like a student?” These are all questions that you may be struggling with as you begin thinking about college.

"Don't get overwhelmed with the amount of choices."

The first step of any successful college-bound student is to do your research. Get acquainted early with the colleges or universities that interest you. Visit their websites to learn about their offerings. Don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of choices. With guidance from your high school counselor, you’ll be able to narrow down what topics interest you and take the first steps toward the next part of your educational journey. Speaking of college, do you know the difference between a college and a university?

According to a helpful article in USA Today, understanding the difference can be tricky because the two names are sometimes used interchangeably in the United States. Some states define what each type consists of, while other states may leave it up to the individual institution. The stereotype is that a university offers both undergraduate and graduate programs; a college offers just undergraduate programs. That may not always be the case, though, so please check the website of the college/university that you plan to attend. (Learn more about the colleges and universities in the Minnesota State system.) 

For instance, the University of Minnesota has 18 different colleges. Within EACH of these colleges are various departments, which include various majors, minors, and graduate/post-doc programs.     

This blog is dedicated to the underdog, the first-generation high school student who is ready to be the first in their family to go to college. So whether you are a lost soul, trying to find your way to your chosen college’s doorsteps, or you would like some tips to give you a head start, this blog is for you. I will post a blog every few weeks and topics will be chosen from things that I struggled with, had questions about, or experienced as a first-gen college student.  

"The next blog could be based on a topic from you."

I’ll also be asking others to offer their experiences as first-generation college students and we will be interviewing student service experts who can give their advice on topics ranging from studying abroad to what resources you have available once you are on a college or university campus. We will also be talking about what you have available to you now as a College in the Schools high school student. We also want to know what you would like to learn about. What are you struggling with right now preparing for college? What do you want to know? Email me your questions and comments. Who knows—the next blog could be based on a topic from you.