Tips for the First Day of College: How to Succeed as a First-Generation Student

by Ashley Eneriz

Being a first-generation college student is a wonderful accomplishment that your family should be proud of. Their support is essential, but they may be unable to offer advice for how to thrive in a collegiate environment. Fortunately, many people at Azusa Pacific University are committed to helping you succeed.

Get a Head Start with Summer Bridge

The Summer Bridge program offered at APU is a free, four-week program that can help first-generation students get to know the campus and community before their first day of school. By submitting an application, this program allows you to experience college life before the real deal. You’ll get to live on campus and even take courses for college credit. By the end of the program, you’ll know your way around campus, understand what a college class looks like, and know where to find free resources, such as the Writing Center and Math Center.

Tips for the First Day of College

Your first day of classes is likely to be an exciting one, and it’s normal to have jitters. If you have the chance, find each of your classrooms before your first day of school. This will minimize your chance of getting lost, being late to class, and will help you feel more confident.

On your first day, you’ll likely receive a syllabus for each class. Spend time reading through the whole document, even if the professor doesn’t go over it during class. Some important areas to note in your syllabus are:

  • Professor office hours: Every professor has set office hours when students can drop in for help. If you have any questions about an assignment or are struggling with the curriculum, use these office hours. Remember, your professor wants you to succeed.
  • Grade weight: Professors weigh various assignments differently. It’s helpful to understand if weekly quizzes count for more of your grade than other assignments. This will help you know where to focus the majority of your study time to ensure better final grades.
  • Important assignments: Your syllabus should also list the important assignments and their deadlines. Be sure to put these on your calendar and schedule time to work on them so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to visit the Writing Center, too, if you need help with brainstorming, writing, or editing any papers.

Join the GEN1 Scholars Program

APU is committed to helping first-generation students succeed during their studies and after graduation, which is why the school offers a GEN1 Scholars Program. Through this program, you can receive the following:

  • Academic support
  • Mentoring
  • Workshops for personal development
  • Semester gatherings

You can also expect networking opportunities and a community of first-generation faculty and staff who are devoted to your college success at APU.

With all of this support at your back, it shouldn’t take long for APU to feel like home. To learn more about the resources available for first-generation college students, contact the Undergraduate Enrollment Services Center.