What are the struggles of being a first-generation college student?

Not all college students develop and grow, some of them have struggles usually the first-generation student of a family. Some of them are not as academically prepared as they need to be.

First-generation college students are the first to attend college in their immediate families. They are made to go through new and difficult situations during their time at the university. It only makes them understand what life is, how important studies are and how hard it is to get where you want to be.

Going through this new competitive environment makes one stronger to face real-life situations and succeed forever.

What are the struggles of being a first-generation college student?

Struggles of being a first-generation college student

Family and society pressure

A first-generation college student means he/she is the first to get into a college in their family. It probably means that their parents were not privileged in college life. They have worked so hard to be able to give their children a good education.

So, no doubt, there are a lot of expectations on the parents’ side from their child. So, when the parents are very proud of their child for getting into college, they also have lots of expectations that he/she will succeed with good grades.

It only leads to pressure on the students. They feel that they need to ace every exam and assignment to secure good grades to make their parents proud. In case, they fail to do so in one exam they can easily get discouraged.

Getting overwhelmed by trying to fit in

Most first-generation college students struggle to fit in the new environment. They see the real world for the first time here. That can be just enough to make one get overwhelmed with the entire university quarter system. They realize how hard as well as how important the classes are.

Most first-generation college students move out of their families. They get out of their comfortable and friendly environment. Most of the time, they don’t have their old buddies in the same class and so have to make new friends. Some might nail it and some might struggle with it.

Even though it is not necessary to make ourselves fit in with others. But not everyone realizes that at this time of life. Later on, they understand all that matters is being “you” and never pretend to be anyone else to be liked or accepted by others.

Studies and academics

It is not just the tough studies that are responsible for the stress but also the situation one is in which makes it worse. First-generation college is the one where you meet new people and see the environment you are supposed to be in for the coming years till you graduate.

Many students would have secured a fantastic GPA in their former school. However, when they end up in this new environment, they realize how big the competition is. It makes them even more nervous and rather than focusing on studies, they end up giving rise to their insecurities by overthinking.

Since this is the first time they are exposed to such a big competition, one can’t expect them to thrive in this situation without guidance.

The feeling of being alone

As everyone knows by now, first-generation college students get exposed to difficult situations which are completely new to them. And handling it becomes even worse if they have a feeling of being alone. Having good friends can make the situation not very difficult to deal with. If not the exact solution, they give the best moral support. And that is more than enough.

Some may not be comfortable sharing their problems with their families. Because of the feeling that they might be stressed out since they care about you a lot. Some introverts may not be confident talking about the study problems they are going through with their professor.

Keeping all the problems inside you and not sharing them with anyone else can only lead to disturbing mental health even more. This not just affects the study scores but also the overall time of your life.

Emotional stress

The holiday season is the time students wait for the most for an entire year. It is the time when students go back to their homes and get reunited with their families and friends. This is when they get a backslide in their life. They realize how comfortable and happier life is at home than the one at university.

Students feel like they don’t want to go back to their university again when the time comes to leave the family again. This is the toughest time for many students.

For some, when they visit their family, they notice how much they have changed from their time at university. They feel the bond they used to share with their family is no longer the same. And this is, even more, overwhelming for students.


A first-generation college student’s life is not as simple and fun as it may seem. They go through struggles that many people have no idea about. There is family pressure and emotional and mental stress that one can cope with all the time till one gets comfortable in that environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to handle college as a first-generation college student?

By being open to asking for guidance whenever required.

2. Are first-generation college students being treated differently?

No, they aren’t.