The Life of a First-Gen Student
For starters: CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am so proud of you for (hopefully) following your aspirations of getting into college and pursuing a career of (again, hopefully) your choice! My parents are immigrants from Latin countries and so they never got to do schooling in the U.S. They came into the states not knowing any english and they have worked incredibly hard their entire lives to allow me to attend UNLV. I am more than grateful for this opportunity that they have created for me but it has not been an easy journey. I graduated class of 2018 and I remember my senior year of high school being super stressful because college was coming FAST. Here is my experience as a first year student and hopefully it can help you!
Tackling your first semester can be pretty intimidating. I know it was for me, especially since I basically had no idea what to expect and I did not have a strong support system. Do not get me wrong, my parents are amazing but they knew less about college, applications, scholarships etc. than I did. My first semester was definitely me trying to figure my way around campus and the workload; just really getting the flow of things. I realized that although it can seem overwhelming, mostly everyone is going through the same feelings you are. Everyone is minding their business and trying to get through the day.
I recommend talking to older students. The earlier you do so, the better because they can tell you things that they wish they would have known when they were freshmen. It also really helps to get involved on campus! Many clubs, organizations, and jobs are looking to recruit students and they are pretty welcoming about it. It will make your journey and transition much easier because these people already know the ins and outs of UNLV as well creating a space for you outside of school. Trust me, even though it does not sound true, just going from school to home and repeating the same cycle daily is going to suck. But your academics definitely come first so do not get too distracted with all the other fun things in your life.
Making it through your first semester is an amazing accomplishment. By then, you should already be comfortable on campus and know what works best for you. Making some friends can be a bit difficult your first year but you should have made a few through classes or things you are involved in. Honestly, your second semester overall should not be as staggering because like everything else, you get used to it. Your classes through each semester usually do not get any easier though, so I hope you are not expectant of that; and do not be too comfortable. You are still going to struggle but there is no problem with asking for help. You will suffer more in silence than speaking up. It is not embarrassing, it is only your first year. Continue speaking to older students and getting involved. You will keep understanding what you like and what you do not like but that won’t happen if you do not put yourself out there.
Each semester is going to bring new challenges, learning experiences, and more chances to make memories. In high school they tell you how scary college is but you learn that it is not that serious. Yes, you need to keep good grades but your journey is what your make it. Your first year of college is very significant and you do not know what it to be something that you forget or dread looking back on. By the end of your semester, it should seem that your first year of college flew by but at the same time, it honestly feels like you have been here for an eternity already. Regardless, your experience will be based on what YOU do.
You got this and you deserve to be here just like everyone else. It just might take a little bit more elbow grease.
Elizabeth Solis, Sophomore
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
High School: Las Vegas High School