To select first element of collection when looping in a JSP page, we just use varStatus attribute of <c:forEach> tag. During iterating each item, use an <c:if> tag to check the Status of the iteration.
Let's try the following code. The details of <c:forEach> tag and collection the I iterate is the a List of Map that I mentioned in this post: 

<c:forEach var="item" items="${codingTipList}" varStatus="loop">
       <c:if test="${loop.first}">
          [first element]
       Item ${item}

You can see the result like followings :