First Generation Students

A Guide to University Life

First generation college students are faced with a variety of unique challenges, even after applying and being admitted to college and securing financial aid. The challenges faced by this subset of students range from a paucity of general knowledge about higher education (e.g., unfamiliar terminology, academic advising, choosing a major) to developmental and more identity-based concerns (e.g., possible social class differences, family expectations, feelings of guilt or shame).

This website was created based on results of focus groups conducted with six undergraduate Counseling Center Paraprofessional students who self-identify as first-generation college students. Although small, they represent some of the diversity that exists within the first generation student population (parents with some versus no college experience, international versus domestic students, students of various ethnic backgrounds). Over the course of a semester, they shared their experiences, concerns, and own successes as first generation students, and provided insight into the needs of and resources for this often overlooked minority.