Facebook Chat with @AnneHolmdahl First-in-Family College Questions Pt. 3

On February 17, 2014, I was grateful to host a Facebook chat with independent college counselor, Anne Holmdahl. Anne answered specific questions regarding first-in-family or first generation college bound students. We had a great audience of parents and educators and others interested in helping prepare students for the college admission process. I’m making the transcript available in 3 parts. ~ ges

Claudine Turner

First in family students have a different experience than students whose parents completed the bachelor’s degree. What advice do you have for 1st in family students and their parents in negotiating that first crucial year of college?

Anne Mallon Holmdahl Hi Claudine – it can be very difficult. Preparation is key – making sure to read every single piece of literature that comes from the school, planning out your classes, etc. I love for students to participate in a weekend program at the college (many schools offer these) after admission. Get to know what a dorm is like, what you need to do to get in your room, what the rules and regulations are, etc., before you arrive for the 1st day of school.

I also STRONGLY recommend that students try to take a lighter load in that first quarter or semester. It will definitely take some getting used to, and there will be kids there who have spent 10 years in boarding school and who have this whole college “thing” down.

I will say this. My son is not a first-gen kid, but even he had transition issues. And I remember back in the day wondering what those kids were doing buying colored pens in the bookstore. I had never seen, let alone used, a highlighter before my freshman year in college! Sometimes, just telling the kids that they are not alone and that everyone is dealing with something is helpful, too.

Many colleges, especially private schools, also have special programs designed specifically for first-in-family students. Definitely ask in advance about programs that might be helpful to a student.

Terri Savage-Campbell

There are many scholarships that are offered for our children. I would like to know which are the best to apply for along with the Financial Aid Application if it does not cover all expenses?

ANNE: There are great places to look for scholarships online, and your high school counselor usually will have lots of opportunities for local scholarships.

BUT, many colleges will take outside scholarships and use them toward your financial aid package. So, for example, if you were offered $10,000 in aid from the college, then you went and found $2,000 in outside scholarships, the college could choose to decrease your aid to $8,000, effectively nullifying your outside money.

I also like to try to have fun with scholarship searches. Both of my sons are 6’6″. We found an opportunity for “tall kid scholarships.”

Terri – some of my favorite sites are zinch, petersons, and college board for scholarship searches. And, as Dr. Grady says, google. (or Bing if you are like me and are married to a Microsoft employee!).

La’Toyia Sweets Weatherton

What classes should be taken in high school to prepare for college??

GRADY: Latoyia La’Toyia Sweets Weatherton student should take classes that will benefit in their future endeavors. You live in Louisiana so get to know all of the diploma tracks so your boys will know the right way to go.

ANNE: Generally speaking, colleges would love to see 4 years of each of the “core” classes – English, math, science & history, plus at least 2 years of world language and a full year of fine arts.

Terri Savage-Campbell

Good evening. Why is middle school a great time to think about this? The reason I asked this question is because my child has changed her mind about what she wants to be about three times pertaining to her career.

Anne Mallon Holmdahl Terri – middle school is a great time to think about high school. What classes you should take, what your college goals might be, etc. I don’t think that any child should have to decide what they want to be “when they grow up” too soon. I didn’t figure out what I wanted to be until I was in my 40s! But you do have to plan ahead to ensure that you meet college admission requirements.

[Be sure to visit Anne’s site for more information – Common Sense College Counseling – and if you’d like to join the first-in-family Facebook group go HERE.]

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