Advice + Tips
Scholarship Organization Tool:
It is very important to stay organized with scholarship/grant deadlines, you want to make sure you apply to as many as you qualify for! A great organization tool is a planner or some kind of calendar that marks down specific dates when deadlines approach. We recommend using a physical planner, Excel Sheet, and/or Google Calendar. It is up to you! The important part is to make sure you have an accessible resource that organizes all of your deadlines.
We have provided below an example of an Excel Sheet:
It is color coded into four different parts.
Green= Completed, the application has been submitted.
Yellow= Not Completed, the deadline is approaching. (Approx. 1-3 Weeks)
Red= Not Completed, the deadline is very close. (Approx. 2-4 Days)
Dark Green= Not Applying, it will be an application to complete next year.
Take a couple days out of your summer to dedicate time to research for scholarships/grants that you can input in your scholarship organization tool. It helps to do this in the summer because you will be starting school in the Fall and next thing you know you have quizzes and homework assignments to worry about. It is better to do your own research for scholarship opportunities in the summer and keep an eye out for the scholarship opportunities that are available throughout the academic year with the help of your school.
Do not waste your time applying for scholarships that you do not qualify for. There have been some cases where students don’t qualify for scholarship requirements and they still get them. However, this is not always the case and we always recommend applying to as many scholarships as you can that you qualify for and have a great opportunity of getting it.
It is very helpful to dedicate a day of the week during the academic year when you give yourself an opportunity to apply to as many scholarships that have upcoming deadlines on your scholarship organization tool! It also gives you the chance to see how many requirements you need to do during the week so you can be prepared, for example: recommendation letters, essays, etc.
Recycle your scholarship applications! Save all of your scholarship essays and entries in a folder on your desktop! This can come in handy because some scholarships use the same essays or have the same requirements that you can just tweak and input without having to start from scratch.
Have a folder saved on your desktop with all your necessary documents that you will need when applying for scholarships. For example: Transcript, Resume, Essays, FAFSA, Schedule, College Acceptance Letter, Photo Documentation, Letter of Recommendations, etc. Keeping track of all your needs for applying for scholarships will make the process run much smoother and faster.
How to self-advocate:
Being a self advocate for yourself can be challenging when you are in an environment that does not appear to be supportive. Try to surround yourself with individuals who want to see you succeed and who understand your struggles. Continue to advocate for yourself because it is amazing how far you have come! You broke down all the stereotype barriers and are proving them wrong. You got this!
How to network when you have to work:
As a low-income student, you often will find yourself having to do work-study causing you to miss campus events. It is difficult to balance your work with your involvement on campus but it can be done with organization. Find the best way that helps you stay organized and up to date on your events. We personally suggest students to use a physical planner but there are a lot of other options available! Google Calendar, organizing tools, etc. Schedule your interested events in the future so you can know when you have to ask someone to cover your shift.
Importance of building relationships with advisors/professors/etc. :
Learn about your professors!
Research your professor’s online, they usually will have a short bio on your universities/colleges administration pages. Having some background information on your professors can be very helpful!
You can also research more information about your professors on website: https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/
It gives students the ability to take a look at other students' experiences with the professor's class. These experiences may be helpful but do not let them influence your own opinion and experience with the professor. Everyone’s experience is different!
Find out how to address them
Figure out your professor’s preferred way to be named. You can ask them directly or it can be attached to their email.
Be email savvy
When sending emails to your professors, be professional about it!
If you have questions during class do not be afraid to ask them! Or you can also ask them after or before class!
Show up at office hours
Write down all of your professors office hours and show up to them! Do not feel afraid to show up and ask questions about class, their profession, research, etc!
Stay in touch!
Continue to stay in touch at their office hours and any other ways in order to build a valuable connection with them. You never know what your professor can help you with that will help open doors for you and your future!
Resources available like Multicultural centers:
Research on your school’s page to see what they offer for their students of color on campus. Many universities have a multicultural center and programs meant for students who are first-generation and minorities on campus. Join the cultural clubs and be involved in the cultural programming in your school! It helps stay connected to your own culture by getting to know others who are in it, especially when college is a place where you can often feel isolated.
Withdraw a class and what this means:
According to Southern Utah University, “the difference between dropping a course and withdrawing from a course is based on the time a student decided to stop participating in a class. If a student decided to stop participating in a course BEFORE the withdrawal deadline, then you have dropped the course. However, if the student decides to stop participating in a course AFTER the deadline, it is defined as withdrawing from a course.
If a student drops a course, the course will not be included on their transcript.
If a student withdraws from a course, the course will be included on their transcript with a ‘W’. The ‘W’ indicates that the student attempted the course but they eventually withdrew prior to receiving a letter grade. ‘Ws’ do not count towards a student’s GPA.”
Find your best note taking ability:
There are many ways that students take notes during class and lectures. It is up to you to experiment and see what works best for you. You can take notes on your laptop, write in your notebook, print out slides and write on the papers, write them on your tablet, and more. Research to see what you believe would be most helpful for you.
Importance of staying involved:
It is very important that you stay involved during college to be able to meet new people and to build up your resume to have a competitive application when applying to jobs or graduate programs! Research on your schools page to see what clubs/organizations opportunities are available for students to be involved in. Check out their social media to be informed on any up to date news! Visit the club fair in the beginning of the year to not only get free candy and merch but to see what options of involvement are available for you in college.
Switching majors is totally okay! Do not worry about the switch and what others will think about it. At the end of the day, you will be the one getting your diploma and you want to make sure that you have spent your college years studying something you enjoyed to learn. Talk to your professors, councilors, advisors, department heads, career center, club representatives, etc if you are having trouble in choosing between majors. It can be very helpful to get a second opinion from someone who has experience in both majors and can help you analyze which major is a better fit for you.
It’s okay to ask for help!:
As first-generation college students, there is this pressure of making sure you succeed academically to live up to the sacrifice that your parents have done for your education. Do not let yourself believe that your struggle is alone, we all feel this way! Reach out to someone when you need help with a class, especially when you feel like giving up on it. If a subject is not your strongest ability, seek help for it in advance so the stress does not pile up and causes you to study last minute. It takes time to understand the new material which is why it is important to give yourself that time instead of cramming your information.
Be open to new experiences:
We understand how difficult it can be to make new friends on a campus with hundreds of new faces walking by you everyday. It is still important to meet new people and get to know them! College orientation is a great way to get to know someone! Participate in clubs/organizations and other events where you can make some friends!
Find highly motivated students to partner with:
It is important to surround yourself with an environment that supports you and wants to see you succeed. This can help you with self advocacy as you endure college challenges. Having a strong community around you is very valuable!
Be proactive about financial assistance:
Continue to seek for any other scholarships, internship, fellowships, etc that are available for you to apply for during your time in school! Follow our scholarship organization tool that helps students organize these opportunities.
Don’t overload yourself:
We understand how exciting it can be to start a new school and meet new people! However, too much school involvement sometimes can distract students from their course work. Continue to balance your involvement, work study and course work. Too much of one thing can be difficult to balance, so it is important you keep track of your own priorities.
Utilize school resources, library, tutoring services, career center, etc:
Your college campus is filled with a lot of great school resources! Research them on your college website and try to visit them the first week of school to get an understanding on where they are located. Visit these resources as much as you can by getting to know the professionals that work there so when it is your time to utilize these resources during your Junior/Senior year you will already be a familiar face!
Go to events + lectures:
Events and lectures can be a great way to be inspired and motivated with your career choice! You will be able to learn a lot from speakers and have the ability to ask them questions. Take notes during lectures! It is also valuable to attend events/lectures of both speakers you know and do not know. You never know what new insight you will learn by listening to a new speaker!
Manage your time:
One of the most important skills is to have great time-management skills! This is something that we will continue to work on throughout our lifetime. However, if you really struggle with this, try to find resources around on campus that may host time-management workshops. A planner is something we always recommend, however, research for ways other students manage time and see how they can apply to your own journey!