Calie Dickey's Story
Be patient with yourself and you WILL get it, particularly with the support of friends, faculty, and staff.
—Calie Dickey, MBA, Associate Director for Study Abroad
College is different than high school—the first year is a time of figuring out how to balance school, work, and life, as well as a completely different style of learning! Be patient with yourself and you WILL get it, particularly with the support of friends, faculty, and staff. The biggest thing for me was feeling like I didn’t “earn” the support that was being offered for first-generation college students. I saw scholarship opportunities for first-gen college students and thought “Well, that’s not for ME.” Take advantage of any and all opportunities for first-gen college students, even if you don’t think you fit the mold.
My advice to first-generation students: Focus on your studies, but find a good school/life balance—the “extras” of a university, like clubs and Greek life, and study abroad help to enhance your experience, provide you with incredible transferrable skills, offer leadership opportunities, and connect you with students and advisors with similar interests who support you and can serve as mentors.
And know, it’s not a failure if you have to change your major. It’s OKAY to major in something that doesn’t have a direct job outcome like engineering, pharmacy, etc. I started out as a Biology major and switched to Communications, which was a much less “secure” major. In the end, the skills I learned, the organizations I joined, the internship experiences I had, and the ability to study abroad for a full semester completely changed my life and job outcome.