Admissions Blog: What I’ve learned from being a first-generation College student

Shay Finch '22 (left) and friends cheering
Shay Finch ’22 (left) cheers on the field hockey team with friends.

Being a first-generation college student is scary, but when you’re in a place that feels like home, it is just a little bit easier. Here’s what I’ve learned during my experience:

  1. I have learned a lot about independence by not having a parent who understands FAFSA, or how many credits it takes to graduate. I would have long discussions with my mom where we would both have no idea what we were talking about. Getting through those moments felt like hours.
  2. I have learned to utilize every resource given to me and not take for granted the people that go out of their way to help me. I finally found peace and comfort in asking for help. I’ve learned to put my foot down when I do not think what I’ve been given is fair and to speak up when I want something and speak louder when it is not heard.
  3. I’ve gained insight on learning to navigate feelings of frustration and confusion, and admitting that I’m in those states. I can now admit when I need help from friends, professors and administration.
  4. During high school I found myself becoming a leader and taking charge in helping others through this process. Despite struggling myself, I wanted to be an advocate for others in my situation. Coming to Sweet Briar has helped me learn how to become more of a leader to help others get the help I was able to receive.

I love working in admissions because I bring another perspective to our team and am able to openly share my experience with others like me. Even today, I am still learning what it means to be a first-generation college student and cannot wait to gain more knowledge to share with others.


Shay FinchShay Finch ’22 is an art history and psychology double major and vice president for the Class of 2022. She is involved in several clubs, including the Black Student Alliance, GLOW (Gay, Lesbian or Whoever) and Indoor Field Hockey.