A Letter to First-Generation Students
You belong here
To my first-generation friends,
First off, I want to congratulate you on all of your accomplishments, regardless of how far in the college admissions process you are. Often, we take on an immense sense of personal responsibility for ourselves and our families to succeed and that deserves recognition. Whether you self studied for your SAT/ACT, just translated and filled out the entire FAFSA and CSS profile for your family, or have no one to help edit your ‘Why NYU?’ essay, soon you will be done and headed off to college. I am grateful for these experiences as an immigrant and the first in my family to graduate from high school and attend college.
As first-generation students we need specific advice on navigating our college years, but you may be wondering what is NYU going to be like as a first-generation student. There isn’t a bullet proof plan to get you through your four years of college but here are some things that have worked for me during my first year at NYU:
Find your community!
I really looked for other first-generation students on campus to make my community in NYC and this is where I found them:
FLIP (First-Generation Low-Income Partnership): A brand new club on campus focused around making a diverse space for students who are first generation, low income, or both. It was started and is run by students to gather resources and socialize within our community.
College of Arts and Science Proud to be First: An organization focused on creating a community of both first-generation students and NYU faculty for College of Arts and Science students. Through shared experiences and community outings, this organization alleviates the stress of navigating any academic and career path insecurities for first-generation students. Additionally, you are connected with a first-generation faculty member to get to know outside of an academic sense and get advice from.
Outside of the College of Arts and Science, the Wasserman Center for Career Development hosts another mentorship program called First Class available to all students. This is more of a professional development and mentorship program where you’ll participate in workshops and explore internships and careers.
Speak up for yourself!
You are probably used to doing this during your academic experience, but it is a different environment in a college setting. Don’t be intimidated by your professors or your TAs (teaching assistants) since they are here to help you! Go to office hours, where you can ask questions about the material or, if you can, join any cool projects faculty are a part of. You really have to express your needs and feelings to get help. If you feel overwhelmed, you have so many people to turn to (your RA, your professor, your adviser) and express what’s going on.
Self advocacy is very important in your experience, so ask for that extension on that assignment that’s stressing you out if you need it! Check out our Wellness Center as well; your mental health is a priority!
Call your parents!
If you are able to, reach out to your family as much as you can. From personal experience, this really centers me and gives me space to ask for advice and hear my parents’ voices. In our native country of Colombia, we have a saying my parents tell me every time I speak to them, “póngase las pilas,” which translates to “put on your batteries.” The essence of the saying is to remember to recharge yourself from all the stress and dedicate as much as you can to this college experience.
I stand with you!