7 Mistakes To Avoid: Moms Of First-Generation College Student

first generation female college students

Mothers of first generation college students have much fear, sadness, excitement as their daughters go off to college. While all that is occurring, it can be hard for moms to avoid mistakes if their daughter is a first-generation college student.

As a former university Student Services Professional, there are seven common mistakes that mothers if they have a daughter who is first-generation college student. Try to avoid them.


1st Mistake To Avoid: You Downplay Your Significance

You think you’re not significant (e.g. useful) to your daughter. Thinking like this will either cause you to depend heavily on your daughter to explain the college application process to you or you will easily get overwhelmed with the process.

First-Gen Mom Tip:

Remember that you raised your daughter. So, you do matter. Your role will change from that of provider to proponent (e.g. being a cheerleader for them). She needs to experience and hear from you that you support her. Sending her care-packages helps a lot!


2nd Mistake To Avoid: You Misplace Financial Documents

You don’t keep your tax documents and financial papers readily accessible. Not having quick access to these papers will result in additional stress for you and your daughter when it comes time to file FAFSA forms.

First-Gen Mom Tip:

If your daughter was awarded a Pell Grant or given work study as part of her financial aid package, that means that there are other additional pots of money that a school may have for those in your income tax bracket. The sooner you file your FAFSA (October 1st for most places) the more likely she’ll get access to or be considered for being given those monies.


3rd Mistake To Avoid: You Call Too Much

You frequently call or text your daughter. Whether or not this is the first time your daughter has been away from home for a long time or even if she is attending local college and is commuting, frequent calls and texts from you will interrupt her developmental process towards becoming an independent adulthood.

First-Gen Mom Tip:

Talk to your daughter about what she would prefer or might be able to do in terms of frequency of contact with you. Remember, you are renegotiating new boundaries in your relationship with your daughter. Following her lead and respecting her decisions will benefit your relationship with her in the long run.


4th Mistake To Avoid: You Live Her Life

You live vicariously through your daughter’s college experience. Your excitement (or fear) about this new season of her life can make you unintentionally communicate a level of pressure for her to “do things your way.” Doing this will cause a level of unnecessary tension in your relationship.

First-Gen Mom Tip:

Ask your daughter about & acknowledge how she is feeling about her experiences. Then just listen.

5th Mistake To Avoid: You Think About One Major Only

You expect your daughter to stick to her initial intended academic course of study no matter what. In the 21st century, there are so many more types of career paths (not simply jobs). This is because technology has expanded the scope and reach of what people can do to “make a living.” Most of the career opportunities haven’t even been developed yet. Patience and out-of-the-box thinking will help.

First-Gen Mom Tip:

Realize that if your daughter loves what she studies, then she will put forth the necessary effort to do well in it. Additionally, she will develop the necessary learning, communication, & social skills that employers are looking for in new hires.


6th Mistake To Avoid: You Expect Her To Only Study

You expect your daughter to be “all work and no play.” Remember, though, that the way extracurricular activities were important for your daughter in high school (to develop her interests and leadership skills), socializing face-to-face with peers, faculty, & administrators is an aspect of networking that becomes more crucial for post-collegiate life. Colleges have an innumerable amount of free and heavily-discounted activities that your daughter can do.

First-Gen Mom Tip:

Encourage your daughter to “get involved” in some aspect of the social opportunities at her college.


7th Mistake To Avoid: You Think Her Roommate’s Da Bomb

You expect your daughter and her roommate to be BFFs. Depending on the degree to your daughter and her roommate have communicated prior to move-in day, there is no guarantee that they will be close friends by the end of their first year of college. The novelty of living away from home will give way to either the deluge of schoolwork they have or the amount of “socializing” they’re doing. In either case, unless they are joined to the hip, your daughter and her roommate will likely settle into their natural patterns. It is those natural patterns that will help them decide if they will be friends beyond their first year.

First-Gen Mom Tip:

It would be prudent for you to advise your daughter to discuss and come up with a “roommate agreement” between the two of them. This way, they each know what the other needs to “live comfortably” in her room and have a good first-year rooming experience.


Be mindful and avoid the mistakes with your first-generation college student. Doing so will help you continue to grow in your relationship with your daughter. After all, by going off to college, she has now stepped into adulthood.


Need someone to talk to help you deal with everything you’re feeling about your daughter being away at college? Contact me.


©2019 Dr. Michelle Deering & Curative Connections LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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