*While most of my posts are intended for firstgen college students, the information can be used for any student focused on college success.
A pretty consistent complaint I hear from first-generation college students is: “I have no one at home that understands what I’m going through in college.” or “My parents can’t help me in college, I feel so alone.”
I certainly know that feeling of thinking I didn’t have support and that my family would never be able to help me get through college. However, once we begin to change our way of thinking and outlook on this “problem”, we can also begin to change our support.
Here’s some advice I like to give students that find themselves in this situation;
Schedule an appointment with your parents
Call your parents and let them know you want to sit down with them at a specific time and place and talk with them about something very important. Make sure the environment you pick is free from distraction and one in which you all can engage in a meaningful and open conversation. Your intentionally of “scheduling” a time to talk will help them to understand the seriousness of what you have to say. If you attend college out of town, schedule a phone call where both you and your parents are in a quiet space and alone.
Let your parents into your “new world” by telling them about what you are feeling. Be sure to give them examples of “why” you feel alone and specific ways they can help support you. Make sure they understand their support is important to your success and you want them to be involved with your successes and challenges.
Allow your parents to respond to your open and honest feedback and listen to their feelings as well. Sometimes parents of firstgen students don’t know HOW to show support and that’s where you and your college come in to give them specific examples of what support looks like. Don’t interrupt while they are speaking and give them a chance to help you better understand their perspective.
Make a plan
Once you’ve had a chance to speak (then listen) and your parents have had a chance to listen (then speak), now it’s time to set up a family plan. Plan how you will share you college experience on a consistent basis and help your parents learn more about what it takes to be a successful college student. Your parents should also include specific ways they will show their support on a consistent basis. Lastly, be sure to include one or two college professional staff members you will connect with to make sure you stay on track with your plan. Everyone should have a copy of the plan and agree to put it in a place where you can always see it.
Finally, you and your parents (and entire family) have to be patient through your college journey. College is full of a lot of great and challenging experiences and each twist and turn will be new for you as well as your family. Exercising patience and remembering the love you have for one another will help everyone to learn and grow together.
In my next post, I’ll discuss specific ways you can share your experience with your family and specific ways they can show you support as they learn more about being a successful college students. Let me know if this helps!
A very special thank you to Jessica (Twitter: @efflorescent) for inspiring me to publish this post.
You are well on your way firstgen!