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6 Tips for Preparing for College From a First-Generation Student

Check out these six tips for preparing for college – written by a first-generation Gamecock!

Author: Alivia Windom, Freshman, Computer Science

Did you know 18% of Gamecocks are first-generation college students? USC provides first-generation students with plenty of resources to make their college journey a smooth transition. As a first-generation student myself, I wanted to share a few tips for navigating the college admissions process. 

Here are my top tips for preparing for college as a first-generation student!

Seek out academic support early on.

I always knew I wanted to go to a large, four-year university.  Being a first-generation college student, I also knew it was important to have a strong support system. Seeking academic help and talking to my school counselors, college admissions reps and teachers gave me the confidence and guidance I needed to not only apply for college, but also prepare me by helping me enroll in the correct high school courses.

Get involved.

In high school, my biggest mentor pushed me to be involved in anything and everything I was interested in, and I’m so glad she did! It really helped show colleges how I could become involved on their campus and within the community. 

Visit campus.

I was always told that when I walked around my “perfect fit” campus, it would feel like home. I didn’t know how true that was until I toured USC! I applied to more than 20 schools and toured over half of them, but none of them made me feel the way USC did. There truly is something about touring your future home that will make your college decision process much easier.

Scholarships: apply, apply, apply!

Apply for scholarships – it’s just that simple. You can even get scholarships just for being a first-generation college student! My favorite websites to search for scholarships are and

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

As a first-generation college student, asking questions is something that I struggled a lot with. I didn’t know very much about the college application process, let alone how to fill out the FAFSA on my own. The good news is that there are people to help you with this! Reach out to your school counselor. If they don’t have the answers, they can direct you to someone who will!

Embrace the process!

Finally, celebrate! You’re a first-generation college student and that’s such a great accomplishment – one that you should be extremely proud of. You’re about to enter an exciting next chapter of your life that comes with new friends and experiences. Let the excitement begin!

Next stop: college!


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