Tips for First Generation and Limited-Income Students 

By: Carlie Carter 

FGLI is a somewhat new term that institutions use to describe first-generation and limited-income students. While the two identities are not synonymous, students who identify as either FG or LI, tend to have similar questions and concerns about attending college. 

Whether you identify as FG, LI, or both FGLI, you have overcome barriers and defeated the odds to get here. You have made it. You are about to attend The College of William and Mary in Virginia. Entering the unknown and beginning a journey no one before you has done is both scary and exciting. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your undergraduate experience as a FGLI student. 

#1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help: IT’S OKAY IF YOU DON’T KNOW SOMETHING! 

William and Mary has many different resources across the entire campus to support FGLI students. Additionally, the faculty and all professional staff are eager to help you succeed here. If you are struggling with academics, financial aid, mental health, registration, finding engagement opportunities, and more – there is someone who can help you. FGLI students often do not want to draw attention to their FGLI identity and are more than likely than their non-FGLI peers to not ask for help and can struggle in the midst of the unknown and confusion. Don’t be embarrassed! You should be so proud of yourself and whoever you ask, will see that too and be excited to support you and answer any questions you may have. This is uncharted territory; no question is a stupid question. 

#2. Explore your non-academic interests: Everyone knows you are smart and more than capable of succeeding in academics – that’s why you are here! While academics are the core of your college experience, be sure to explore what engagement and extracurricular activities William and Mary offers. With 475+ Recognized Student Organizations to choose from (including a FGLI Student Organization), you are sure to find your people and build positive, meaningful relationships with the campus community.

#3. Find a Time Management Strategy that Works for You: Many FGLI students have to work a job while balancing their undergraduate studies. Don’t rely solely on your brain to manage your time and responsibilities. Find a time management strategy that works for you. Whether it be an Outlook or Google Calendar, a paper planner, a dry-erase board, or sticky notes above your desk – stay organized and discover how you can manage your time, roles, and responsibilities in a way that keeps you on track and reduces stress. If you need help, the Tutor Zone (along with tutoring in all classes), offers free time management consultations.

#4. Go to Office Hours: Not every student is familiar with seemingly obvious collegiate terms. Office hours, for example, is a reoccurring, pre-scheduled time when professors are available to meet and work with students outside of class. Use this time to your advantage. Go and ask questions, get help with content if you are struggling, and build these relationships with your professors. Additionally, building these relationships can open the door to other opportunities (like research positions, mentorship relationships, graduate school application support, and more). They are experts in their field and are here to help you and strengthen you intellectual development. 

#5. Be Kind and Patient with Yourself: You are doing something AMAZING. You are HERE. This is new, unknown territory and you will figure it out! There is always a learning curve when trying something new and that will happen in college too. You are trying your best. Unfortunately, mistakes and errors will be made during your college years. You are not doomed and your life isn’t over. Get up, try again, ask for help, and be kind to yourself! Be patient – it will be okay! You are capable and worthy. 

Also, seek mental health care when you need it. William & Mary has a great counseling center for students to seek counseling and mental health support anonymously and free. Check out their website, here.

FGLI students hold a unique and important role within every college community. William and Mary specifically, has many resources and personnel here to help support you. Student Transition Engagement Programs (STEP) hosts many FGLI-specific events and engagement opportunities and has a Graduate Assistant, Carlie Carter who works specifically with FGLI students at William and Mary. Sign up for the FGLI Newsletter here and stay engaged with STEP and stay in the know of FGLI events and support opportunities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *