The FGLI Road to Success
Before getting into the "meat and potatoes" of this blog post, I must first express my sincerest gratitude for the FGLI (First-Generation, Low-income) community here at Dartmouth. Beginning with the FYSEP program back in August, this family of mine has been with me every step of the way. It's now the final term of my first year in college, and my connection with this community is as strong as ever. I love you all!
Being the first in my family to even think about attending a four-year university, let alone Dartmouth College, I was a bit nervy to say the least. I knew I had the intellectual firepower to succeed, but I was ignorant of the intricate characteristics that a successful student has here at Dartmouth. That's where my FGLI family came in; they set me up with all of the advice I needed to blossom. I'm thankful to say I'm doing just that. Now, I'm privileged to offer you, my friends, some advice that I've incorporated into my life not so long ago. Great. Now, I'll stop blabbering and get into this. Here is some advice that has changed my life:
For your first year, take classes that you will genuinely enjoy.
Okay, this one is a cliché and a no-brainer really, but I have to state this. I was told time and time again to take advantage of the liberal arts curriculum here, but I think I started out a little narrow-minded. Of course, I fully plan on pursuing a career in the weather community post-Dartmouth, but I'm so glad I'm beginning to venture out and take interesting courses… like my REL 005 class this spring: Early Christianity: The New Testament. It's been so fun!
Introduce yourself to your professor / teaching assistants on the first day of class.
This is a prime example of something I didn't think about prior to coming here. It is also probably the most important piece of advice I've ever gotten in my life. Although classes here are fairly small, professors will inevitably have trouble remembering names and find difficulty in forming connections with their students. Make it easy for them. The go-to line is "Hey Professor," (or their first name), "My name is _____ and I'm an FGLI student here at Dartmouth. I just want to be sure I'm doing everything I can to succeed in your class, and it's a pleasure to meet you". Best piece of advice I've gotten.
SIT AT THE FRONT OF THE CLASSROOM – No excuses. Period.
I know this is going to be a hard one for some of you. As an introvert, it would be so much easier for me to sit toward the back of the classroom and absorb the material from afar. It's comfortable, but getting out of the ol' comfort zone is the name of the game. Sit at the front. You will thank me later.
Be engaged in class, be curious, and ask questions!
If I could make that text more bold than it already is, I would. But Microsoft Word has limitations. Please, please, please do these two things: sit at the front of the classroom and be attentive in class. I've heard it out of multiple professors' mouths now that they enjoyed having me in class because I was always eager to participate. This also makes the professor's life easier! Just when you think you've asked enough questions, ask another one. Once you're satisfied, ask more clarifying questions. You get my point. Don't be afraid to be "that person." Who cares? You've worked your tail off to get here and somebody somewhere is paying a lot of money for your education. Take advantage of everything!
Be willing to meet new people in your class; Make friends and connections
This is kind of a common sense thing, but please try your best to step out of that comfort zone and put yourself out there. Everyone else in the classroom is as anxious as you are on the first day / week and you can break the ice by being bold and courageous from the get-go. From experience, I can say that this allows you to be the person your peers will come to later. If you make yourself approachable from the beginning, your life will be smooth sailing later on. Trust me.
Remember the thing(s) that drove you to get to where you are today. Remember your value.
I wish I didn't have to reinforce this point, but the world isn't perfect. Many FGLI students get caught up in the funk of imposter syndrome and question if they are good enough to be at the same institution where very well-off students often thrive. Yes. You. Are. In fact, you deserve to be here more so than the majority of other people on campus. I have my own story that fuels me each and every day to remember why I'm here and why I'm fighting the good fight. Find that story and latch onto it… it will take you far.
I truly hope that you take some of this advice to heart. Just a disclaimer, most of this stuff isn't my personal advice. I've gotten it from some wonderful mentors in the FGLI community and I will forever be grateful. In the first two terms, these pieces of advice have granted me two citations in classes that I loved (citations sound bad, but they are good. I promise). I also vow to take my own advice. I love you guys!