How to succeed as a first-generation college student

April 24, 2015      |      Posted on Posted in Total Well-Being
How to succeed as a first-generation college student

First-generation college students are often perceived as hard-working and driven–supported by family, friends or mentors to overcome the odds and make their dreams come true.

But what is often overlooked is the variety of challenges faced by students without many close relatives or mentors at hand to contribute.

Having already helped thousands of college students along the way to their degrees, ACI Specialty Benefits is well-versed in tackling many of these challenges. Here are five of the most important things first-generation students should do to turn themselves into first-generation graduates.

Connect socially

Many first-generation students worry that their unfamiliarity with college will strip them of having a “traditional college experience.” In reality, however, the traditional college experience is just another way of saying meeting like-minded individuals, something any student can do. Don’t close yourself off to opportunities to connect with others–attend club meetings, get coffee with classmates, and spend as much time as possible on campus to expand your network. You’ll be surprised how much you will end up having in common with certain students.

Uncover all costs

What you see is not always what you get when it comes to the price of college, which is why it’s important to look past “sticker prices” and calculate the net total each time you gear up to pay tuition and fees. If you don’t regularly sit down to uncover all the costs of college, you may end up having to put your priorities on hold as uncertainty holds your budget back. Check out a website like the National Center for Education Statistics or talk to an ACI expert to find out the true cost of your education and how to prepare for it.

Have a 4-6 year plan

When you’re the first person in your family to go to college, you’re often expected to take on more than just the responsibility of school. Maybe you have to work, maybe you have to play an important familial role, or maybe you’re relied on to be at home often. Make a point to let those around you know your commitment to graduating by sitting down with an advisor to map out, class-by-class, a 4-6 year graduation plan that your loved ones can also sign off on.

Take risks

You’re already making history by being the first in your family to graduate from college, why not go all out and take a few risks? Risks can amount to asking questions, participating, visiting with professors regularly and even going out on a limb to run for positions within clubs or student government. Don’t settle for a monotonous routine just to get a degree you need, but rather go out on a limb every now and then to get the education and experience you deserve.

Talk to an ACI expert  

Whether it’s finding out the net price of your remaining college years, establishing a roadmap to graduation, or just answering the general questions that come up during the day-to-day of college, make sure to talk to an ACI expert about all your new experiences. It’s why we’re here.

Get started at, or contact ACI at / 800.932.0034