Are you a first-generation Aggie engineering student?
Learn about the Texas A&M University College of Engineering mentoring program that can enhance your educational and social experiences and help you meet your goals!
I know those feelings that are running inside you. The feelings of pride, inspiration, ambition, sacrifice and fearlessness. You are on a path that no one in your family has traveled before. From the moment you received your college acceptance to the first time on campus that took your breath away, you have waited to start your experience as an Aggie.
Trust me. I was there. I, too, felt all those feelings as I walked to my first college class ever! You are about to enter uncharted territory and the spotlight is on you.
As a first-generation college student, not a single day goes by that I don’t think about my family and their sacrifices. For my family and I, going to college is the ultimate way to better your life. But with all this support from family, there comes a problem many first-generation students experience — lack of understanding.
As new students on campus, you may experience imposter syndrome, confusion, anxiety, financial uncertainty, social isolation or family conflicts. These dark clouds hover, making it hard to adjust. I have felt many of these emotions, but I have learned many lessons along the way. You are exactly where you need to be, and I am here to supply you with tips for first-gen students:
1. You are not alone!
Yes, you are the first one from your family in college, but that doesn’t mean you’re the only one. Whether you are one hour away from home or from a different state/country, find a community that aligns with your interests. I recommend joining organizations related to engineering, sports, multicultural events or organizations outside of STEM. Pursue activities you like and naturally, your community will follow.
2. It’s okay to ask for help.
You may want to achieve everything 100% on your own. I am here to tell you that asking for help does not mean defeat. Where would you rather be? Not asking for help and leaving class without knowing the answer or asking and leaving class with the answer? Many people can help you succeed. Reach out to your professor, TAs, classmates or other sections because someone has the answer to your question. Being vulnerable does not equal weakness.
You belong here. You are capable. You can achieve your success story.— Juan Cuellar ’21
3. Try new things!
I understand it can be daunting to be in a new environment with so many people. Put yourself out there and get comfortable with being uncomfortable in a new activity. My advice is to sample different things until you find something you enjoy.
4. You do fit in.
You are not alone in your journey. It can be difficult to get help from your parents who didn’t go to college. I could never have expected my parents to help me with calculus because they’d never even heard of it. It took a lot of personal initiative to reach my goals. But slowly and steadily, I found my community.
Although I have barely touched the surface with these four tips, I firmly believe they can make a difference for a new student. These are lessons I have learned and carried into my career.
Every first-generation student has a story to tell. I am not the first one to graduate, nor will I be the last one. You belong here. You are capable. You can achieve your success story.
Class of 2021
If you found this blog post interesting, you may consider reading “5 Things I Wish I’d Known When Applying to Texas A&M” and “Pick Your Path – A Note to Future Engineering Students.”