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First Generation at Rochester

Being a first-generation college student can feel like walking on a trail without any sense of direction, and often that is the reality. However, you don’t have to walk alone! Finding a close-knit community on campus to rely on can transform your college experience and help you make the best out of your time!

As a first-generation college student myself, I was very intimidated by the idea of navigating college by myself. For this reason throughout the college application process and during my first year of college, I tried my best to expand my network and meet people. Before move-in day, I tried to connect with my classmates through social media so that I would see familiar faces once I got to campus. This helped me foster a community very early on and made college feel like a second home.

To learn about the First-Gen experience at Rochester, I interviewed members of the First Gen Society E-Board. Nicole and Jacky, both learned about Rochester through their community when researching colleges. The flexibility of academic interests and advanced research at the institutions drew their attention.

The Power of Community

Like many students, they were also very nervous about starting college however the community at Rochester made them feel welcome. Clubs and sports teams allowed them to meet new people and build a support system for themselves. They emphasized the importance of a community because, unlike high school, no one will guide you through college. You are in charge of your time and how you choose to spend it! Staying disciplined can be very difficult at times but having a supportive community can be the motivation you need to get back on track! Jacky mentioned, “As first-gen students, our network is the most valuable resource, that’s where we hear about opportunities.” I believe this is a very powerful statement because, without the help of our communities, we would not be where we are today. As first-gen students, it’s crucial for us to build and utilize our communities!


As mentioned above, college is so much different than anything you have ever experienced. Classes are very fast-paced and it’s critical to stay on track to do well. Luckily, University of Rochester structures classes with multiple resources outside of lectures such as workshops, recitations, and labs to help students understand and apply the materials they learn in class. In addition, there are also tutoring and peer advisory resources for students to connect with upperclassmen and learn about how to navigate their academic journey!

Coming into college can be scary but realize that you are not doing this alone! Everyone in your class year is equally confused and experiencing college for the first time in their life. Meet people and connect with them over how scared you are of taking the big intro classes, or living away from your family. Try to get out of your comfort zone and do the things you are afraid of. Trust me you will learn something and embrace the experience! Just because you didn’t see people in your family go to college doesn’t mean you are any less qualified to be here. You deserve to experience all the great things college has to offer and make the best out of it! You got this!

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