For worse or for better, applying to a college is often familyaffair. Some questions in your college applications may ask forinformation not only about your personality and life, but alsoabout parents. For example, you will be asked to state theeducation level reached by them. Colleges have different reasonsfor asking information about the educational progress of yourparents, and the main one is to put the rest of your applicationinto context.
Who are first generation college students? Their parents didn’tgraduate from the college, and this fact may affect how yourhigh-school background and academic accomplishments are viewed bycolleges. If you want to write a first generation college studentessay successfully, get more information about the following:
- Who is included in this category of students;
- How colleges view first generation application writing;
- How it may affect your application.
Who first generation college students are
In a basic sense, a first generation college student is someonewhose parents have no degree. If your parents didn’t attend anycollege or they failed to graduate, you belong to this category.Many college applications ask you directly whether your parentsgraduated from any college.
There are different effects that being a first generation collegestudent may have on your application, and this fact can bementioned in many ways. For example, it can be mentioned by yourteachers or in guidance counselor recommendations. It’s possibleto address your backgrounds and its impact in your applicationessay. Theoretically, first generation college students come froma range of categories, including:
Being a first generation student can indicate many other thingsabout your personality, and you can use them as interestingfactors for the admissions committee.
Possible disadvantages of being first generation college students
Although each situation is different, many first generationapplicants experience a number of systematic disadvantages thathave a certain impact on the ability to access their collegeeducation. As an example, if your parents have no useful collegeexperience, it’s harder for them to navigate your applicationprocess compared to parents who are familiar with it.
Parents who didn’t attend any college often don’t have a personalexperience to advise their children about the entire admissionsprocess and application essay writing. They also tend to be lessfamiliar with the following criteria of competitive colleges:
They all can be quite stressful and confusing to manage even forexperienced parents.
Being first generation college applicants may also mean that theycome from lower-income families, and it has a major impact ontheir personal challenges. It may mean that such students haddifferent life experiences compared to other applicants. If yourcommunity is also lower-income, you may not have the resourcesnecessary to offer such opportunities as extracurricularactivities, courses, college counseling, etc.
By designating you to this category of applicants, colleges don’tmake any judgement about your backgrounds. They only clarify thata set of your life opportunities or experiences can be differentfrom the ones of applicants whose parents attended colleges. Thisis how the admissions committee gets a more details picture ofyour achievements and their meaning.
How colleges view your first generation college student status
When colleges are informed that you are a first generationcollege applicant, they consider it when assessing youraccomplishments. Most of them practice specific holisticadmissions processes to get to know all applicants aspersonalities. So, this status is a part of their holisticunderstanding of your backgrounds.
You will never be penalized by colleges for belonging to thiscategory of applicants. As a first generation college student,you may miss out some networking opportunities during anapplication process. Don’t be surprised to learn that this statusis often viewed as something positive by many colleges. It’s ahook or an important factor that may force admissions officers tofocus on your college application. That’s because you had toovercome different obstacles to be able to apply to a college,and this fact may cause them to pay close attention to youraccomplishments.
If such traditional qualifications as test scores, grades, andextracurricular activities may not be as great as the one ofother applicants because you have a first generation status, itcan be a mitigating factor for the committee. If the income levelof your family means that you need a paid job, you will have lesstime on academic assignments. If your standardized test scoresaren’t perfect, it’s because you couldn’t afford expensivetutoring.
Although it doesn’t mean that parents who didn’t attend collegescan’t effectively help their children during this process, it’squite labor-intensive and complex even for prepared andexperiences families. Those applicants who have college-educatedparents get their access to extra knowledge and experience,unlike first generation students who simply have less backgroundinformation to submit a competitive college application.
In many cases, colleges decide to accept specific applicantsbased not only on their personal and academic accomplishments,but also according to everything that can bring to enrich them.The admissions committee is interested in creating a diversecampus community that benefits both socially and intellectuallyfrom including a range of perspectives. Your academic abilitiesmatter a lot, but other factors are also taken by colleges intoconsideration. Your status of a first generation college studentprovides you with a unique set of experiences and voice to sharewhen writing an application essay.
Furthermore, a college campus is a very boring place to study andlive if students have the same backgrounds. That’s why applicantswho are different in their profiles can get extra interest fromadmissions officers. Having this status can be compared to beingany underrepresented minority.
The effects of being a first generation college student status onyour application
As you can see, this status is quite unlikely to ruin yourchances to get accepted by a competitive college. On thecontrary, it may even attract more attention of the committee andincrease a chance of viewing your application more positively.Many colleges are more willing to forgive a bit lower test scoresand grades when it comes to first generation applicants. Theyalso recognize that students with this status have lessbackground knowledge because they have other obligations in highschools.
If your extracurricular and academic records are spectacular,your application will impress the admissions committee even more.They will understand that you worked hard to achieve this access,no matter of your life challenges. However, this status is not apanacea that can smooth over all kinds of rough spots ordrawbacks in your college application. The educational level ofyour parents is only one thing among many others considered byadmissions officers when reading your application essay becausethey are also interested in your:
- Academic performance;
- Extracurricular results.
To get accepted by competitive colleges as a first generationapplicant, it’s still necessary to be a strong and fullyqualified candidate. They need to know that you can handle allkinds of academic challenges and positively contribute to theircampus community with your hard word and ideas. Since manyqualified applicants are interested in competitive colleges,having such a hook can help you stand out.
It’s a matter of their understanding that all applicants havedifferent backgrounds. Some applicants have more inherentbenefits than others, so it’s not fair to compare all studentswithout considering this status. Informing the admissionscommittee that you’re a first generation college student is aclever idea because it can’t cause any harm to you, and you willprovide them with a better understanding of your qualificationsand backgrounds while increasing your chances of success.
How colleges choose the best candidates
To be successfully accepted by the chosen educationalinstitution, you should learn the basics of how colleges choosestudents. Basically, they use different factors to determine thebest candidates, but they all pay close attention to high-schoolgrades because they demonstrate the ability to succeedacademically. Other factors taken into account by the admissionscommittee include the following:
- Test scores;
- Grades in each course;
- Strength of your curriculum.
The success of your college application is not only about theclasses you take and the grades you receive, but also aboutdifferent aspects considered by officers:
- Class ranks;
- Counselor and teacher recommendations;
- Subject test scores;
- Your demonstrated interest;
- Extracurricular activities;
- Your application essay.
When writing your college application essay, present yourselfauthentically and without pretending to be someone else. Theevaluation approach chosen by a particular college may differ.For example, some colleges use a more holistic approach whenreviewing applications, while others use a more mechanicalprocess and numbers to determine initial qualifications.
No matter of the college you want to apply to and the approachchosen by the admissions committee to review candidates, use eachavailable opportunity to showcase your individuality andcharacter.
Effective ways to increase your college application chances
Above all, you need to present yourself in an application essayauthentically. Answer all questions in a natural writing styleand make sure that your paper is grammatical and clear. The useof a simple language is more effective than choosing long wordsthat can’t impress anyone. Explain why you’re interested in thechosen college and your future educational goals.
Let your personality shine in a college application essay becauseit’s the best place to reveal your unique traits. If you canchoose questions to answer in this paper, focus on the onesyou’re excited to write about and make sure that they can revealsomething about your character. Consider something that showsothers who you really are instead of giving a standarddescription. If you can’t choose a particular topic for yourcollege essay, determine how a given subject can highlightspecific personal qualities.
Get to know college application prompts
Ease the process of writing your college application essay, nomatter if you’re a first generation student or not. Take enoughtime to understand its prompts or questions to give an adequateresponse. Ensuring that you fully understand them is one of themost important steps to your successful admission because youressay must adhere to given prompts. They often suggest suitableideas or topics to discuss, and they may vary from trivial topersonal. They all challenge your writing abilities and sparkyour insight and creativity. Think about what is asked beforeletting relevant ideas flow. Before you start brainstorming,determine what your college application essay should accomplish.Don’t try to use any of your high-school essays because theynever showcase you as a qualified college applicant.
Effective brainstorming techniques
Use your creativity when brainstorming possible ideas to addressapplication essay prompts. Sometimes, this session can be moretedious than writing your college essay. Its basic purpose is tofind interesting ideas to let you fully understand and know agiven topic when you start writing. Reflect on relevant events orexperiences that can serve as specific and strong examples whileanswering a few basic questions:
- How can your friends describe you?
- What are your strong sides?
- What can set you apart from other applicants?
Write down all ideas and come back to them later. You also needto narrow down available options and choose a few concepts thatcan fit college application essay prompts perfectly. Determinethe one that can be further developed without losing theaudience. Consider the idea that captures your true personality.Select a good story that you want to tell the admissionscommittee. Make sure that you have enough supporting details toeffectively demonstrate your academic perseverance, achievements,beliefs, and abilities.
Outlining your application essay
To create a helpful outline of your college application essay,you should map out everything you’re going to write in it. Afterbrainstorming unique ideas, you know what you want to tell theadmissions committee in your essay. Next, you need to decide howyou will say that, so make a plan and break down everything intosections.
Any good story always has its beginning, middle, and end. Shapeyour personal story using the same pattern to make it easy andcoherent to read. Strategizing is also important to get asuccessful essay plan, so determine how you will open it andidentify the right tone based on specific ideas. Finally, youneed to stick to your unique writing voice and style.
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