First-Generation College Students Resources and Tips

Why its important to know you’re not alone.

Many new students at Purdue Calumet are first-generation college students, which simply means neither parent went to college and earned a degree. By being the first in your family to attend college, you are in the company of most new freshmen on campus. You are certainly not alone!

You may feel unprepared for a university environment because you don’t have family members who can “clue you in” on what college is really like or understand how much time and effort it actually takes. And that’s perfectly normal.

Here are a few tips to help take some of the anxiety out of the “unknown”.

College is more challenging than high school. Expect to read, write, and research more than you did in high school. Speak with your instructor if you are unsure about your grades. Don’t hesitate to get help if you need it; know that there are resources you can access to help you maintain good academic standing. Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction are available in Gyte room 102. If you need help with your writing skills, visit the Writing Center in the Classroom Office Building room 265.

Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your efforts to earn a college degree. Your academic advisor is a great source of information and encouragement. They can help you find the resources on campus you need to be successful. Get to know other students in your classes so you can get notes and find out what was covered if you are ever absent. Form study groups with classmates to review for exams or to have a practice audience for your speech or class presentation. Chances are that they are the first in their family to attend college, too.

Find your passion. When you are excited about something it’s naturally easier to spend the time necessary to be successful. College is a time of discovery and exploration. It’s ok to change your mind and decide on a different career path. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is a good thing, too.  Its not uncommon for students to change majors even after their first year in college. If you’re undecided or need some advice on refining your educational goals, speak with your academic advisor. Don’t forget to check out the undeclared student resources (link opens in this window) on the Center for Student Achievement web site.

Don’t give up! If you find yourself discouraged or overwhelmed, take advantage of the services provided by the Counseling Center, Gyte room 005. They understand and are there to help you. All services are confidential and not part of your academic record. Your instructors and academic advisor can assist you as well. At Purdue Calumet, faculty and staff are committed to student success. There are many resources available to help you achieve your goals.

A college education is one of the best investments you can make in yourself!

What students are saying about being the first in their family to attend college:

Hear in their own words, the experiences of first-generation college students from across the nation — students just like you.

Who we are: First-Generation College Students (link opens in a new window)

First in the (link opens in a new window)

College = Full-time Job (Really!)

Attending college is a full-time job. If you need to work while in college — as many students do – remember to balance your work and study time so that you are not overwhelmed. Make a realistic schedule you know you can manage. After your first semester, which is typically 12 credit hours, a normal courseload is 15 to 18 credit hours per semester (if you want to graduate within a four to five year timeframe).

Class Time + Study Time = Hours on the Job. For every hour you spend in class, plan on studying 2 to 3 hours outside of class. Have dedicated times to study and review. Schedule class and study time on your calendar just like you would work hours for a job. Make sure you allow plenty of time for research, reading, writing, editing/re-writing, homework assignments, and reviewing for tests. Use a planner and keep track of test dates, project deadlines, homework assignments, and study sessions with classmates. Get organized and use your time wisely. And, yes, class attendance matters!

Getting good grades and making progress toward your degree is your number one job. Get to know your professors and plan of study (program requirements). Keep on top of your progress in each class. Be proactive. Find out what classes you need to take in sequence; with your academic advisor plan out your education semester by semester; focus on your goals.

Your college career depends on YOU. By making your college education a priority now you will reap the rewards of earning a prestigious Purdue degree as well as gaining plenty of self-esteem!  Remember to keep your eyes on the prize!

Get Involved and Discover Yourself

There are many exciting programs and student organizations on campus to participate in. Get involved and explore your interests. Through student activities you may find a new interest or career path you never thought of before or unique experiences that will help you grow as a person. College is all about discovering who you are, where your interests lie, how to improve yourself, and finishing what you start. The four or five years (or however long) it may take you to earn a degree is your time to focus on what you want to be and where you want to go in life.

Use this time wisely and take advantage of all the benefits you have at Purdue Calumet. At a larger institution you may not get the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research with a senior faculty member who is an expert in their field or have a leadership role in a student organization. At Purdue Calumet, opportunities to be involved in many different experiences and at varying levels of engagement are readily available. Check out what’s happening with campus activities, student organizations, undergraduate research, experiential learning, and within your department or school.

This is your time to explore, discover, and create the future you want to have.   At Purdue Calumet, you’ll gain experiences for a lifetime!

Helpful links:

(All the following links open in this window)

Student Activities

Student Groups & Organizations

Undergraduate Research

Experiential Learning (ExL)

Academic Schools and Departments

Student Employment

Fitness & Recreation

Academic Resource Center