Are You A First-generation Student?

Congratulations on choosing to further your education! While you may be experiencing a mix of emotions, please know that you are making a fantastic choice to attend college and there are many people ready to assist in making your experience successful. Being a first-generation college student is something to be incredibly proud of and we hope you are already confident that completing your undergraduate degree is your next step.

First, let us tell you a bit about the Center and then we will provide some additional information and resources to assist you in your college journey.

About The Center

The Center for First-generation Student Success serves as the premiere source of evidence-based practices, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students. This means that we help colleges and universities help you succeed as a first-generation college student. While we do not offer direct support to first-generation students in high school, college, or university, we want to help you navigate and locate more information. Check out the sections below to get started:

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Valuable Articles For All First-Generation College Students

First-Generation Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some frequently asked questions to help you determine if you are a first-generation student. Click the plus sign to reveal the answers!

Tips For High School Students

Are you currently a high school student considering attenting college? Consider the following tips:

Contact your high school guidance counselor, a trusted teacher or school administrator, or someone in your family who is assisting you consider college or university and ask about how much it really costs to attend.

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Use Understanding the Cost as a guide!

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Look into community-based programs for college or university support. Your guidance counselor may be able to point you in the right direction.

Have you thought about prepping for the SAT and/or ACT?

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Your high school might offer free PSAT, SAT, and ACT preparation. Ask your guidance counselor or high school front office if any college preparation programs are available and how you might get involved. If your high school publishes a regular newsletter, the information may be there as well! 

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Do you know about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

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  • FAFSA is the application process to determine the amount of Federal Student Aid that you may qualify to receive through the government. There are a lot of deadlines associated with the FAFSA so check it out and do not be afraid to ask questions! 
  • It’s a good idea to get help with your FAFSA. Your high school likely offers free workshops to help you learn the steps. You can also check with the colleges or universities where you are applying and the Financial Aid office is usually glad to offer assistance. 
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Where can I find scholarships to pay for college?

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College Board Scholarship Search - Your high school guidance or college preparation office should also have a list of scholarships. Also, don’t forget to check out local civic organizations (i.e., Ruritans, Jaycees, Lions, VFW) for scholarship opportunities. Never hesitate to reach out to the Financial Aid office at your top choice college or university to ask about scholarship opportunities as well.

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Have you thought about SAT and/or ACT score requirements?

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Each college or university will have different score requirements. The admissions website often includes this information but also feel free to contact the admissions office, ask questions at college fairs, seek the help of teachers and guidance counselor, or even ask older students who you know may be attending that college or university! 

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Contact your high school guidance counselor, a trusted teacher or school administrator, or someone in your family who is assisting you consider college or university and ask about how to apply to college or university application process.

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Use Facilitating the Application Process as a guide!

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Contact your high school guidance counselor, a trusted teacher or school administrator, or someone in your family who is assisting you consider college or university and ask about how to search for the right college for you.

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Use Big Future College Search as a guide!

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TIPS FOR COLLEGE / UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Are you currently a college or university student? No matter whether you are new to college or a seasoned pro, everyone still has something new to learn and explore. Check out this helpful article to learn new terms and then read below for tips on how to learn more about your first-gen identity or navigate your community.

Go to your university or college’s website and use the search bar or ask your Resident Advisor (RA), orientation leader, or peer-mentor about:

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Search your school's website or ask your RA, orientation leader, or peer-mentor about first-gen students, student support services, TRiO programs, first-gen student organizations, & peer-mentoring programs. Once you find options, stop by the office, introduce yourself, and get involved.

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Not sure where the Financial Aid Office is located?

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Search “financial aid” on your college or university website and consider:

  • Scheduling a 1-on-1 with a Financial Aid Officer meeting to better understand your financial aid, student bill, and important deadlines. 
  • Asking about other scholarship/aid opportunities that may make college more affordable.
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Do you know that you need to complete the FAFSA every year?

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The application process opens every year on October 1.

Helpful tips:

  • The earlier that you complete your application the better!
  • Keep your login information in safe place.
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Why is it important to connect with faculty?

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While it may feel uncomfortable at first, your faculty will appreciate getting to know you! Making an introduction allows your faculty to learn more about you, will make it easier to ask questions, and may result in exciting opportunities. Connecting with faculty in your major is especially important!

Click here for a helpful link that includes email etiquette tips.

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Are you interested in finding a job on-campus?

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  • Search your college or university’s website for student jobs 
  • Connect with the career services at your college or university
  • An on-campus job is a great way to be connected
  • If you have not yet created a resume, click here for a great resources to get started
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Do you have questions about your schedule, major/minor, or future courses?

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Getting in touch with your academic advisor and scheduling a meeting is a great way to receive some assistance. If you do not know who your academic advisor:

  • Ask an instructor or professor, your RA, orientation leader, peer-mentor, or friend
  • Search your college or university’s website 
  • During your meeting you might also ask for help with the student information system
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Interested in getting involved on your campus?

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Below are some offices that you can search on your college or university’s website to consider learning more about:

  • Campus Activities
  • Student Health and Wellness
  • Student Counseling 
  • The Learning Center or Academic Support Services
  • Service-learning and volunteering opportunities
  • Campus recreation
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Student Voice

We would love to hear about your experience as a first-generation college student.  If you would like to share your story with us, please contact us by email- first-gencenter@naspa.org. Also, follow us on twitter @FirstgenCenter!  Use the #FirstgenForward hashtag to keep up with conversations that might be relevant to your experience.