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As move-in day rapidly approaches and the sun’s rays begin to decrease in intensity, giving way to the dwindling summer, I’ve found myself with many questions as I head into college as a first-generation student. I can’t just ask my family members what it’s like to move into a dorm. When it comes to financial aid, I’ve had to rely on other mentors to help me sort out the bureaucratic mess that this ordeal can become. In other words, I’ve completed most of my preparation with the help of people outside of my family.

Last month I discussed the importance of mentors in high school, but today I’m here to tell you that the importance of mentors isn’t just temporary. Mentors are important for a lifetime.

I’ve been blessed to be part of several organizations that help make first-generation students’ transition into college easier. These organizations include The Alexander Hamilton Friends Association (to which you apply at the end of your junior year of high school) and QuestBridge (through which high school seniors can apply to partner colleges and universities). Hamilton Friends paired me with a mentor who graduated from Harvard last spring; this mentor ended up being invaluable in my journey during the admissions process. That same organization has also paired me with another “Hammie” (a nickname given to Hamilton Scholars) who attends Yale; I’ve been asking him question after question about academics and living at that university. Similarly, QuestBridge has paired me with a fellow “Questie.” My journey into college would have been harder without these organizations, and I’d recommend that you look into them

Apart from these organizations, my residential college (Saybrook College at Yale) is pairing me with an older student to become my “older sibling”; the school also gives me a freshman counselor. So, in terms of people to look to for help when I arrive, I’d say I’ll be in good hands. However, if you don’t have organizations or connections to network with, contact professors at your school and ask any questions that you may have. Never be afraid to ask questions. Chances are, you aren’t the only one who has them.

These past several weeks have brought a lot of nostalgia. As a first-generation student, I’ve never been away from home for more than several weeks at a time, so moving away is going to be a big deal.A few days ago my sister came to the realization that I only have a few more weeks at home. She turned around and her eyes widened as she began to comprehend that it’s happening soon, and that life is about to be different for all of us.

For all the first-generation students out there, I’d like to point out a misconception about the summer after senior year: it’s not all fun and games. Going into this summer, I thought I’d have time to hang out with friends and just enjoy the time I had left with them; however, as many of us find out, a lot of us find ourselves trying to work and save money to spend in college. In addition, I’ve found myself filling out packet after packet of paperwork in preparation for my arrival on campus. If I wasn’t taking a placement exam, I was filling out packets agreeing to behavior codes; if it wasn’t that, I was at the doctor’s office getting shots. Whatever it was, I didn’t realize how busy the summer before college would be.

This busyness is probably what’s made it fly by so fast. Soon, many of us will be moving into our dorms, and for all of us that are one step closer to doing so: get ready for some new experiences! They’re coming very soon for us first-generation students.