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Advice and tips

We want to help you open doors and connect with VCU’s community of first-generation students, as well as others who will support and encourage you throughout your journey. Here you’ll find tips and advice shared by our first-generation students, faculty and staff.

Reach out to us if you have questions. We want you to know that you are never alone.

Advice from first-gen students

“College can be intimidating, but in order to get on the right path and succeed, you need to get involved and strive at your goals. Use the resources available to you to make your time here easier. Plan for circumstances you may find yourself in, and above all NEVER EVER GIVE UP.”

- Papa Beye, computer engineering

Advice from faculty and staff

"On the other side of fear is your freedom - it can be scary to enter a new place, especially when you feel alone. But, once you try, it's worth it. You already conquered the fear of coming to VCU, don't let fear stop you from taking advantage of the opportunities here."

- Ashley Staton, Executive Assistant, Strategic Enrollment Management and Student Success

"Get involved around campus and know your resources. Joining a student organization or attending networking opportunities are a great way to meet other students. Be willing to ask questions for help. You'd be surprised that you aren't the only student with that same question."

- Matthew Lovisa, Director, Communications and Marketing, Student Affairs

"Trust that you have a right to be at a major university. I was certain my first year that I hadn't earned the right to be at a four year school. I was from a rural area, I went to a small public high school, and hardly anyone I knew was going off to a big university. Even my parents thought I should live at home and go to community college. But I did belong at my university. Once I trusted in that, my grades soared."

- Dale Smith, Service Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Undergraduate Advising

Have advice to share?

We encourage all first-generation students, faculty and staff to share their experiences and advice by emailing