It’s no question that college is a special time period in our lives: being on our own, making our own decisions, studying fields we are interested in, etc. But college can also make us feel like the loneliest person on Earth. Being a minority at a PWI (Predominately White Institution) can make this transition even more difficult if you don’t feel like you’re connecting with people or fitting into the school based on social attributes you can’t help with.
1. Find a mentor
Whether it’s an upperclassman or a professor, someone is waiting to inspire you and provide the support and connections needed to make the transition to college much easier. The Connect Program, run by UNH faculty member Andres Mejia is a great way to find mentors who are eager to meet the first-year multicultural students as well.
2. Be involved
There’s so much to do at UNH so don’t put yourself in a box-try new things and you’ll never know what/who you’ll discover.
3. Don’t be ashamed of your culture
Be proud of who you are and where you came from. The worst thing you can do is change how flawless you already to try to fit into someone else’s vision of “perfection”. Stay true to you.
4. Be open-minded
Don’t think everyone is out to get you or is racist. You may not be in your comfort zone, so just adapt to the new environment. At UNH, there are hundreds of clubs and student organizations that make it impossible not to have ANYTHING you’re interested in. Force yourself to leave your bed, shut off Netflix, go out and find something fun.
5. Find a new support system
There’s most likely a million people who feel exactly the way you do-reach out to someone and you’ll be surprised the connections you make.
6. Be prepared for racism
It’s everywhere in the world and unfortunately it isn’t getting better, so be prepared. There is a chance that it will happen. It might be large-scale or small-scale, but if and when it does, figure out how you will react and what those actions will say about yourself.
7. Try clubs designed for minority
At UNH specifically, there are many multicultural and minority-oriented groups that meet at least once a week. What better way to connect with people you know have gone through similar experiences as you based on whatever targeted social group you’re in.
8. Attend or host a forum
Make the change, be the change.
9. Stay connected to friends and family at home
Obviously it’s vital to make new connections once you get to school, but the history and experiences you’ve had with those from your home town made you who you are today–don’t forget that and don’t forget them. Remember that they most likely WANT you to reach out to them when you’re in need because they will do the same when they need your support as well. No one knows you like someone who’s struggled with you previously.
10. Remember you are a person, NOT a social group.
No caption needed, just remember this always.
It may seem like college is the hardest point in your life, with the stress of academics, socializing, and being away from home. And it very easily could feel like being of a minority group makes all this stress more prevalent. But remember that being in a minority means you’re born with a strength that not all will have-and all these tips will help you get through your 4 Wildcat years at UNH 🙂