Common Experiences

Some common experiences that first-generation students have experienced are:

Excitement and Pride:  You've faced innumerable challenges and succeeded: that’s why you’re at Wesleyan!

Anxiety: The transition to college is nerve-wracking for everyone, but for first-generation students there can be added concerns around what to expect. Feeling nervous or apprehensive is normal, but remember to reach out to others for support if you need it.

Success: Some first-generation students worry that their academic performance may be hindered because they do not have the benefit of family members who can give them advice on navigating the college experience.  Our data from Wesleyan students indicates that the academic performance of first-generation students is nearly identical to the performance of all students.  First-generation students actually have higher retention and graduation rates than the rest of the student body.

Responsibility: Like many other students on campus, you may be helping to pay for your education through working a job during the semester, filling out FAFSA forms, or balancing family and educational responsibilities. 

Belonging: Some first-generation students feel that they don’t truly belong at college. You do belong at college and we are glad that you have chosen Wesleyan!

Balancing: It can be challenging for students to balance their commitments on campus (courses, jobs, extracurricular involvement) with managing family needs at home, so self-care is essential.

Major Paths: Many first-generation students feel the need to move toward more pragmatic majors, but they often find a way to balance the practical with their passions. 

Navigation: It is important for first-generation students to learn the expectations of university life in order to get the most out of college. This is why the First Things First pre-orientation was created for incoming students. Most importantly, it is essential that you ask questions!

Solitude: Many first-generation students experience the feeling of being unique and alone in their struggles and perspectives. It is important to remember that you are not alone! Be sure to listen to the stories of other students and how they were able to find their sense of connection and belonging.