How to withstand the majority while being a minority: Tips to surviving at a PWI by, Ashlee Freeman

Leaving home for college can be tough on anyone. There are many first-time experiences you will face that will take you out of your comfort zone.  Leaving for college can be life changing and challenging in many ways. Some of you may come from very diverse high schools and some may not. This meaning, you may or may not know how to survive in an environment with people who don’t understand you or your cultural background. This specific blog is targeted toward my minorities who will soon be leaving home to attend a predominantly white institution, AKA a PWI. 

I’m here to give you all some tips on how to survive being at a PWI.

First, You deserve to be here. Understanding this is the first step. You have a right to be at this institution. You are going to have an experience where you will be the only person in the class that looks like you and you have to be okay with that. Understand that you earned that seat your sitting in, so walk with your head held high!

Second, Be yourself AND know yourself.  It is so easy to start to become someone your not in order to feel more comfortable, to fit in, to make yourself feel smaller or acceptable to those around you. DON’T. These four years are for growth, learning and exploration. Stand out and be whoever you want to be, even if you look different. Know who you are and stay rooted in your values. Take pride in your goals and morals, this will help you along the way. 

Third, Find your safe space.  Find a space where being you isn’t hard. Understand that you are not going through this process alone and you have alleys. Often times people of color tend to flock to those who look the same, but that doesn’t have to be the case. However you want your safe space to look and whoever you want to be in it, is up to you, just make sure YOU are comfortable. 

Fourth, Find a mentor. Having someone to show you the ropes isn’t a bad idea. I know that this is your opportunity to be on your own and do your own thing but trust me on this. You will appreciate the guidance. Having a mentor means networking, new opportunities and accountability. 

Fifth, Use your voice. Don’t be afraid to call someone out. If you are put in a situation and you feel uncomfortable. Speak up! I’m not saying be the spokesperson for your community, but most of the time if you experienced it, others have too. Stand up for what you believe in. Be strong enough to have a voice for some others who don’t. There will be times that you are challenged, do what you feel is right. 

Last but not least, Remember why you started. Remember why you came to college in the first, this and why you chose this institution. Never let anyone stop you from doing what you want to do. Remember, college is about growth and change, let these four years be full of that. Stay strong and stay proud of who you are and what you represent.