First-Generation Students

Having a support system that is knowledgeable about college, particularly elite institutions, is an advantage. We are here to support you as you navigate financing your experience, understand campus traditions and expectations, and negotiate your academic success with professors, peers, and administration.

Your transition to Colby and your Colby experience will present new opportunities. It is important to recognize that you may have a unique experience at Colby as a first-generation student. This experience may include a new sense of freedom, culture shock, and academic challenges. We aim to provide you with the support and preparation necessary to learn, grow, and thrive.

Information for First-Generation Students

    A New Sense of Freedom

    College tests your time management skills. How you manage this freedom becomes an important aspect of your success. Although you will have the opportunity to control your time, you must also manage it responsibly. Your class dean, academic dean, and first-gen mentors are always available for guidance.

    Academic Challenges

    The liberal arts tradition offers you unique opportunities to question and think critically. Your courses are designed to expose you to multiple perspectives, invite inquiry, and encourage self-study. They will also expose you to a higher level of academic rigor. We know that you have the tenacity to manage this course load—that’s why you’re here today!

    However, students should also remember to utilize the following:

    • The course syllabus
    • Faculty office hours
    • 8-10 hours of study per course per week

    Always keep in mind that to be in good academic standing at Colby, you must maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or higher.

    Culture Shock

    For many of you the demographics of your high schools and towns are different from that of Colby. For others this is a very familiar place. Students who have gone through culture shock always ask the critical question, “Why am I here?” Your answer will not only inform your purpose at Colby but will also serve to guide you as you navigate the transition process.

    Academic Support

      Farnham Writers’ Center

      The Farnham Writers’ Center works with students, faculty, staff, and local schools on all aspects of writing. We seek to further a culture of writing at Colby and in the community through peer tutoring, faculty support, and special writing events.

      As a writing resource, we provide information on good writing practices and guidance on grammar and documentation to the Colby community and online visitors. Sign up for an appointment.

      Multilingual Tutoring

      The Farnham Writers’ Center also trains tutors to support students regardless of background or language proficiency. If you need additional help, please reach out to our multilingual writing specialist, Ghada Gherwash.

      Personal Librarian

      Each Colby student is assigned a personal librarian. They aid students in research and teach them to utilize Colby’s libraries, the Colby, Bates, Bowdoin catalog, along with other resources available to Colby students. Learn more about the program and how to meet your librarian.

      First-Year Writing Courses

      These courses, known as W1, are mandatory writing seminars. They are designed to introduce you to college-level academic writing through the lens of various topics. Past classes have included New York City and The Science of Crime and Space, Place.

      Writers’ Workshop

      The Writers’ Workshop, WP112fs, is a non-graded, one-credit course also offered through the FWC. It is individualized one-on-one writing assistance. We encourage you to do the writing program at the same time that you take the W1.

      Faculty Office Hours

      Office hours are scheduled times set aside by all Colby faculty. During these times, students can go to professors’ offices to receive help with class work or general advice on the course. Take advantage of these opportunities to get extra help with homework or to get to know your professor.

      Health Insurance

      A select group of students qualify to be part of Colby’s health plan at no cost or reduced cost. In some cases, Colby’s health plan may be more comprehensive and/or a more convenient plan than the one you had prior to Colby—especially if you hail from out of state. Compare your current plan with Colby’s to make the best decision for you. Regardless of your insurance, students can access Colby’s Health and Counseling Services free of charge. The fully staffed centers can assist in many of your health care needs.

      First-Generation-to-College Student Connections Mentor Program

      This program matches first-year, first-generation students with a student mentor to help their transition to Colby. To sign up, email


        Concord Coach Lines run from Colby’s athletic center to Portland, Boston South Station, Logan Airport, and all across Maine. From Boston, connections can be made to locations in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Buses typically run every day that school is in session. Greyhound buses run from the Waterville bus station at 320 Kennedy Memorial Drive.


        There are several taxi services available to and from Colby for trips into Waterville.

        • Elite Taxi: 207-872-2221
        • Cheap Taxi: 207-872-2300
        • Pine Tree Cab: 207-465-2304

        The Jitney

        Colby offers a free service called the Jitney that takes students all over Waterville. It departs from outside the Pugh Center starting at 2 p.m. every day. The service ends at midnight Sunday through Thursday and at 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

        Zipcar Program

        Have a license? If you become a Colby certified driver, you can participate in the ZipCar Program and rent one of our three ZipCars. Find more info at

        Shuttle Service

        Colby also offers a free shuttle service that makes stops in downtown Waterville on a 45-minute loop. The shuttle runs Thursday and Friday with stops at Walmart, Main Street, Gilman Street, and Colby’s Pugh Center.

          Library Services

          Students are able to check out books for free from Colby’s library system. Books can be checked out for 28 days at a time but many can be renewed throughout the term.

          CTA Search for your textbook.

          Colby is also partnered with NExpress, MaineCat, and CBBCat to offer students access to a wide range of databases free of charge. You can check out a book for four weeks at a time using NExpress and you can often renew these texts (unless the lending library, i.e. Bowdoin, needs the book back). MaineCat books can be checked out for two-and-a-half to three weeks at a time using this system.

          Nota Bene

          The best way to search for your book is by the ISBN—the 10- or 13-digit number listed with the book’s title, author, etc. This will ensure that you have the correct edition of the text that your professor required. Because these are borrowed books, you cannot write in them. To take notes try using clear tabs or Post-its available in the First-Generation-to-College Student Supply Closet in the Pugh Center or any bookstore.

          Book Fund

          The book fund is a limited resource and can be requested once during an academic year. In order to gain access to the fund, students must contact their class dean. If the needed support exceeds what the book fund can cover, we encourage students to meet with Student Financial Services and/or their class deans to discuss additional resources for current and on-going support.


          Miller, Olin, and Bixler libraries have loaner laptops to check out. Each library has both Macs and PCs, as well as extra adapters and headphones. If you need help securing a personal laptop, contact Cindy Wells in Student Financial Services. Additionally, the Dean of Students office offers a few laptops. Incoming students receive priority for obtaining these refurbished laptops. Please contact your advising dean to secure a laptop.

          Graphing Calculators

          Graphing calculators, both TI-83 Plus and BA II Plus, are available in Miller Library and Olin Science Library for student use. These calculators can be checked out using your Colby card for four hours at a time.

          Colby’s RESCUE

          Recycle Everything, Save Colby’s Usable Excess—has an enormous yard sale usually on the first day of orientation (Aug. 29, 2017). Here you can purchase many residence hall room items such as lamps, carpets, trashcans, refrigerators, microwaves, and more. Refer to your orientation packet for specific information.