Coming from a rural background and being a first-generation college student, my heart breaks when I see statistics showing the college struggle for students like me.  I remember getting to college and being in the largest class I had ever been in!  That class had around 50 students.  I was afraid of getting lost in the shuffle.  I determined that I was not going to be lost and I want to share some advice on how to be successful.

1. Work hard

First-generation and rural students do have some very valuable tools to be successful.  The first tool is the ability to work hard.  Course work is hard but the ability to manage a schedule of course work and a job has long been ingrained in you.  Use a good calendar and plan ahead!  Study!!!

2. Know your limits

The second tool is the ability to know your limits and ask for help.  Colleges, such as UMHB, have made great strides in academic and social support.  The best place to start when you feel that you need assistance is your course instructor.  They can refer you or get you in touch with the department that you need.  Our freshman seminar courses have students called Cru Leaders who are great resources for finding out all of the “need to know” things around campus.  Plus, do not forget your residence hall assistants. They’re also a great resource.

3. Find your people

The third tool is to find your people.  There are many other people on campus who have had the same type of upbringing that you have.  It may take a few weeks, but you will find them.  You will find them in your dorm, your classes, your activities, or your job.  They will be your lifelong friends and support group.

4. Don’t feel guilty

The fourth tool is how to handle feeling guilty about your education.  It is hard to not feel guilty when your family needs something and you know what your education is costing.  In addition, you may not be able to go home to help.  Remember that your education will help your entire family in the long run. 

5. Call your parents

Finally, call your parents!  They do care about you and want you to be successful.  They worry about you.  In addition, please discuss any financial, educational, and career decisions with them.  They have insight and life experiences that you do not have yet.  They may not have been able to go to college, but they may see “the other side” of a decision.

Reaching a goal, such as completing a college degree, cannot be done without sacrifice and hard work.  Setting a clear list of priorities and goals with some organizational skills will help you GRADUATE!  I look forward to watching you walk across that stage and receive your diploma.

UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!