In college, you change who you are, what you identify as, and who you want to become.
In many cases, college students, especially first-generation college students, become highly aware of all their identities, how they intersect, and how they affect their college pathway. Personally, when I first started college to when I graduated, I noticed how my own identities had shifted and how I learned to navigate these identities. The main (but not the only) identities that students learn to navigate are their race, gender, sexuality, nationality/status.
Why is identity so important in college?
Maybe where you come from these identities do not seem like a big deal, but in the grand scope of things, they can help you navigate your undergraduate and graduate career. As a first generation student, understanding this identity can also help you understand how your college peers have the upper-hand in certain aspects of college. More importantly, understanding as a first generation college student that you do not have the same privileges helps you become aware of seeking out help and resources, to do well academically and socially. As first generation college students we do not all navigate higher education the same; it all depends on our social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds that ultimately can make doing well in college difficult or easy.
How can it make navigating college difficult or easy?
It will not make it easy, understanding your identity as first generation, student of Color, LGBTQ+, undocumented is not a means of making your experience easier, but better prepared, As a first generation college student and as a Chicana identifying, daughter of immigrants, these identities helped me understand how where I grew up and the quality of my previous education set me back for some of my classes. These identities also helped me to go to the right places for help too. Your community at school, whether you are a student of Color, Black, first-generation, undocumented, or LGBTQ+ are always behind you, and are more than willing to offer endless resources to ensure your success.