Tips for First Year Students

By Inland Empire Success | June 15, 2024

Hey There, Inland Empire Grads!

You did it. You conquered high school, and graduation is just around the corner, so what’s next? Maybe college has always been the plan, or maybe it’s a new, exciting possibility. If you’re the first in your family to consider college, you might have mixed feelings: excitement, nervousness, and maybe even a little uncertainty.

That’s totally normal! This guide is here to help you navigate the amazing journey of college, especially if you’re a first-generation student.

High School Advisors: Your First Resource

One of the best resources available is your high school college advisor. Meet with them to discuss your interests and concerns, and listen to their advice about your college plans. These experts can help you understand what courses you need to take, how to fulfill A-G requirements, and what extracurricular activities will look good on your college applications. Remember, they’re there to support you, so take advantage of their expertise.

Conquering College Applications: A Step-by-Step Guide

Applying to colleges can feel overwhelming, but with a little planning, you can approach the process with confidence. Here’s a roadmap to guide you through the key steps:

  1. Research and Refine: To start, explore colleges that pique your interest. Make a short list of your top choices, considering factors like academic programs, location, and campus culture.
  2. Gather Your Arsenal: Collect necessary documents like transcripts, standardized test scores (if required), and letters of recommendation. Request letters from teachers or advisors who can speak to your strengths.
  3. Craft Your Story: Many colleges require personal statements or essays. Start early, revise often, and seek feedback to ensure your essays are polished.
  4. Deadlines Are Deadlines: Mark important dates on your calendar, and set reminders to ensure you submit your applications on time.

By following these steps and staying organized, you can conquer the college application process and take a confident step toward your academic goals.

Matching Your Interests to Colleges

Think about what you love to do and what subjects interest you most. Are you passionate about science, arts, business, or technology? Different colleges have strengths in different areas. Matching your interests to a college’s strengths can help you find the best fit for your goals. Talk to your college advisor. They’ll be able to help you find the most suitable choices.

First Thing’s First: Understand the Two Different College Types 

College is an amazing place where you can learn new things, explore different interests, and prepare for a fantastic career. There are two main types of colleges and more than 40 of these in the Greater Los Angeles area:

  • Community Colleges: These offer two-year programs that can lead to an associate’s degree or prepare you to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • Universities: These offer four-year programs leading to a bachelor’s degree, and many also offer graduate programs for advanced studies.

Why College Is Your Ticket to the Future

No matter which you choose, college can open doors to incredible opportunities. Beyond money, a college degree helps you develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills—all essential for success in any field.

And while college may seem expensive, financial aid, scholarships, and grants are available to assist you. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) is your key to unlocking many forms of financial aid.

College Life Hacks: Conquering the Campus

College is a time to learn and grow, but it’s also a time to have fun! Here are some tips to rock your first year:

  • Time Management: Juggling classes, studying, and a social life can be tricky. Develop a schedule and stick to it!
  • Don’t Skip Classes: Attending class and taking good notes are essential to understand the material.
  • Get Involved: Join clubs and organizations, and attend campus events. This is a great way to make friends and feel connected to your new community.
  • Use Campus Resources: Libraries, writing centers, and health centers are there to support you. Take advantage of them!
  • Academic Success Tips: Develop excellent study habits, like reviewing your notes daily and forming study groups. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class or seek guidance from your professors.

Ready to Launch?

College is an incredible journey filled with learning, growth, and endless possibilities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A whole network of people are rooting for your success.

IE Success is one such resource. We’re here to support Inland Empire students on their college path. Check our website for scholarships, workshops, and tons of useful information. We believe in you. Go out there and conquer college! We’re here to guide you every step of the way.