Guidance for a First-Generation College Student (Part 2)

More Tips For Students

Before diving into our second segment of guidance for a first-generation college student, we have a fundamental tip for ALL students.

Visit the Schools

Every school can look great online or on paper. But you won’t know what to expect until you physically visit the campus and have face-to-face interactions with faculty. If you find out a school isn’t a good fit, you can save yourself the time of applying to that school and paying the expected $100 application fee.

Also, know that every higher ed institution is different. Programs have different application and auditioning procedures, acceptance requirements, and deadlines.

Program Requirements and Application

Review programs, so you know what materials to gather to get accepted. Every school has unique requirements, but here is a checklist of things typically associated with applications:

Action Tip

Signup and create a profile on Not only does our network include premier programs, but you can highlight all of the above bullet points in your profile. Recruiters can connect with you directly in the portal. You might even get found and recruited by schools you haven’t considered.

Financial Aid Through Grants and Loans

No question, the average student probably doesn’t have thousands of dollars lying around for college. Luckily you have options. FAFSA, or The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a way to get federal grants and loans. To retain financial assistance, apply every year you are enrolled. In addition to a grant or loan, you could also get a work-study job if your school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program.

Another option is applying for assistance through College Board and creating a CSS Profile. The not-for-profit organization connects college students with financial aid, as well as other resources for the SAT and program advancement.

Financial Aid Through Scholarships

There are several ways you can acquire either institutional or non-institutional (third-party) scholarships. Whether they be merit or need-based, you should research your options. Here are some common scholarship types: academic centered, community service, minority or ethnic groups, future women leaders, and even creative accomplishment awards. There are even scholarships that are awarded to students for being physically unique, such as your height!

Action Tip

In addition to your expanded search, has compiled numerous non-institutional (third-party) scholarships for the performing arts! Create your profile and start finding available scholarships.


Once you have a final list of schools, record all deadlines for each school. Moreover, an institution might have different deadlines than that of your college program or major. If you are considering a branch campus, know that deadlines can be different from the main campus.    

Action Tip

If you don’t have one already, get yourself a calendar – document everything. Also, plan backward and determine what dates you need to have things completed by so that the institutions have what they need on time. Give yourself some flexibility in case applications get lost in the mail, or if you experience internet problems on the submission date. And when you request recommendation letters from either teachers or mentors, don’t wait until the last minute. Be courteous and give them some time (and a reason) to speak highly of you.

We have provided a lot of information for a first-generation college student, but hopefully, the college process seems less intimidating and more manageable. It’s all about preparation. If you plan for success, it’ll be sure to follow.  If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask!

Our last bit of advice? Have fun! Enjoy the process. And always, keep practicing,

Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO of