Guidance for a First-Generation College Student (Part 1)

Steps To Take Before Applying

If you are a first-generation college student, there are some important first-step considerations to make and prep work to do before you apply. Make your college search more manageable by knowing what tasks you need to complete first. Review the following aspects before you apply to colleges and seek out financial aid.

Figure Out What Interests You

In almost every professional’s life, something influences his or her decision to go into that specific field. Certain "chain of events" or opportunities can occur that will lead to the next big thing. Reflect on what interests you before deciding on a career choice. This can include areas of study or extracurriculars. You may even consider your preferred environment, such as choosing if you want to work outdoors versus indoors.

Action tip: Take a career quiz. There are many online. A career quiz will evaluate your interests, hobbies and potential career paths. It’s a great starting point for those who do not necessarily know what they want to study. Paying for college will probably be the largest financial investment of your life; so be sure to invest in something you enjoy.

Investigate Career Paths

You may learn of a few jobs that could be a potential career through your career quiz. Your next few steps should be to investigate degrees, certifications, skill sets, and knowledge that are required for those jobs. We have a list of careers in music you can use as a starting point for your search!

Action tip: Speak with successful professionals in that line of work. What did they have to accomplish to get to that point in their career? What made them successful?

Even though it might be many years away, you should also consider job locations. Where would you like to live and work? In a large city or maybe a small suburb? How much does it cost to live there? You might come to find your desired career is not available in a particular area of the country or the salary doesn’t support your lifestyle.

Research Programs That Are The Best Fit For YOU

Just because a college, university, or conservatory is a division one school, it doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you. There are a lot of characteristics that you should consider in the grand scheme of things that make a college the best choice.

Action tip: Find out the professor to student ratios and classroom sizes. Tour facilities or research programs that could provide you the best learning environment. Learn about quality faculty or instructors. Find programs with high graduation rates. Find programs that generally offer great networking for careers after graduation. These are what we consider premier programs.

Just remember, personal accomplishments and your standardized test scores will heavily influence your admission. Resources like can be the platform for you to showcase your achievements and network with premier programs across the country. You can also search for available scholarships opportunities on our website.

Look for our next blog to learn about financial aid, scholarships, the application process, program requirements, and deadlines. Our goal is to make the auditioning and application process as smooth as possible for students, and in this case, for a first-generation college student.

As always, keep practicing!

Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO of