Q: How do I know if I am a first-generation college student?
A: The formal definition of a first-generation college student is a student whose parents did not complete a four-year college degree. At Brown, we think of it more as any student who may self-identify as not having prior exposure to or knowledge of navigating higher institutions such as Brown and may need additional resources. For example, if a parent attended a four-year college in a different educational system outside of the United States; if a student has only had close contact to people with minimal college experience; if a student and/or parent feel that they are unfamiliar with college culture at Brown-- these are diverse ways in which students might identify with the first-generation identity.
Being first-gen may also have greater saliency for some students more than others and at different phases in their education -- from a first-year undergraduate through the final stages of doctoral or medical education. First-gens are diverse in myriad ways and span socio-economic classes, international, domestic, religions, races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc. Our program, student organization, and community do not require students to share their familial background or their reasons for joining the community.
Q: How do I know if I would be considered "low-income"?
There is no income level that determines eligibility for students to take advantage of the community and programs of the FLiCenter, though generally engaged students have little or no expected parent contribution as part of their financial aid package. Students who advocated for the inclusion of low-income students in the title of the Center had powerful stories for how their experience as low-income impacted their time at Brown and both the impact of finding a community and the desire for increased coordination of support.
Q: What resources does the Center offer to First-Gen students?
A: The First-Generation College Student Program offers opportunities for students to establish a solid footing at Brown by fostering a sense of community and connecting students with resources across campus.
From the time of acceptance to life after Brown, we aim to establish and continue contact with our first-gen and low-income community. We host events during A Day On College Hill (ADOCH, Admitted Student’s Day), organize series of programs throughout the school year, and invite alumni to participate in our Annual First-Gen Career Con and to come share their experience with students.
First-Gen Peer-to-Peer mentoring program: The mentorship program aims to connect first-year and sophomore students with other first-gen community members (Juniors, Seniors, Graduate Students) to create peer advisory mentorship relationships. This peer-based system has helped many first-gen students get the most out of their time at Brown. Participants become expert navigators of the Brown experience, and build a key sense of belonging designated by research as the primary building block to first-gen success. In many cases, mentorship relationships become beautiful friendships. If you would like a mentor, or would like to be a mentor, please email us.
Q: What do you do if you are homesick?
A: For many of students, coming to Brown will be the first-time being away from home for extended period of time- homesickness is a common and shared feeling.
In the “How to Brown” Guidebook a student shares, “ For me, attending Brown means traveling thousands of miles away from home and everything that I have grown to know and love throughout my life. From my family and friends. From my mom’s cooking. From my community. I have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions during my time here. I have felt liberated, challenged, strong, frustrated, defeated, excited, lonely, successful, anxious, self-reliant. And all I can say now as a third year at Brown is that it’s okay to feel any of these ways. Know that you are not alone, neither in your times of joy nor in your times of trouble. Somebody cares, and somebody currently is or has been in your shoes. We want to help”
An important strategy to push through homesickness is to connect here at Brown -- with peers, faculty, and staff. We suggest, “Be open to meeting others. You might just meet your best friend or find a community within Brown that makes you feel welcome and transports you back home. For first years, especially, try your best to become friends with people in your unit. These are people that you will live with or live near for eight months. They’re people you’ll be grabbing lunch and dinner with over the course of your freshman year and whom you might be living with as an upperclassmen.”
Reach out to the First-Gen community, peer leaders (Meiklejohns, Residential Peer Leaders, etc.), engage with the Swearer Center for Public Service, connect with the religious community, participate in intramurals or other fitness opportunities, or join student groups. Talk with a professor or advisor. Stop by a dean’s open office hours in the College or in Student Life, visit with one of the University Chaplains, or talk with the staff in one of Brown's many centers for community (including FLi Center, Brown Center for Students of Color, LGBTQ Center, or Sarah Doyle Women's Center). We also encourage students to make an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services.
Q: What expenses will I encounter at Brown?
A: First, start by reviewing Living@Brown: Financial Considerations. You should be prepared to buy books in the first days of each semester. However, you don't have to do that at the bookstore; compare bookstore prices with what you can find online to get the best deal (searching the ISBN, the string of numbers by the UPC on the book, is the easiest way to find online). Plan to have some extra money each time you travel for things like getting to and from the airport. To/from PVD there is a shuttle that stops at Brown for about a third of the cost of a taxi. To/from BOS there is a bus from Providence that will bring you to the airport, or you can take an Amtrak or MBTA (the Massachusetts public transportation system, which you can link into by taking the 'Commuter Rail' train from Providence) train from the Providence train station to Boston, then a bus from Boston's south station to the airport. When you first arrive you will probably need some extra furniture or accessory items for your room, like lamps, cooking supplies if you're interested in that, rugs, hangers, bedding/blankets, towels, etc. It's great to wait and see what you need for your room when you actually get here, just plan to make a shopping trip after a few days (except for towels and sheets, if you like to shower and sleep, those you will want right away!). At the end of the year, you will need to make arrangements to store or transport all of your stuff. The point is, small but important extra expenses come up. Fortunately, it is very easy to get a part-time job on the Brown campus if you need extra money.
Q: How do I get a Job?
A: Listing of all student employment opportunities: https://studentemployment.brown.edu/JobX_FindAJob.aspx
If you are looking for a low intensive, yet decently high paying job, be on the lookout for Brown department office jobs that tend to open up during the summer a few months before school begins. Apply to as many as you can because not all jobs will offer you a position, much less contact you even if you are not hired.
Also, if you have never worked while taking on a full course load, consider waiting for a while to give yourself time to get your bearings at Brown. It may also be a good idea to know what activities you are interested in and their meeting times. All this, of course, will depend on your financial situation. F1 visa students have a work limit of 20 hours a week. Since some jobs have a minimum number of hours/shifts everyone has to take, be aware of how this relates to the number of hours your visa allows you to work.
Be on the lookout for opportunities listed in Morning Mail in addition to the employment website. Sometimes employers will send something out through Morning Mail.