A First Generation College Student is a student from a family in which no one has graduated with a college degree. Many universities consider students the first generation only if their parents or legal guardians have not attended a 4-year college degree.
You might be wondering about these distinctions between various institutions and how this might impact your candidature. So, let’s dig a little deep. Every college and university and funding organizations may set their guidelines as to what this term means. As a general rule, a first generation college student comes from a family where neither of their parents/guardians gained a four-year degree. In most cases, students whose parents hold an associate degree, or other certification, are still classified as first generation students.
What are Some of the Characteristics of First Generation Students?
- Many are from socioeconomically disadvantages families
- Racial and ethnic minority students make up large percentages of FGS applicants
- Females are the majority
- Their college entrance exam scores are typically lower than the national average
- They lack support from friends and family
- Often feel uncomfortable on a college campus
- Aren’t as likely to seek support from their professors or peers
- Don’t get involved in campus initiatives
- Attend part-time while working, often commuting rather than living in dorms
- They don’t connect with peers who aren’t first generation students
Why are First Generation College Students so special?
Universities and colleges across the nation are looking for ways to create more culturally, socially, and economically diverse student bodies. First generation college students are at the top of their lists. First generation college students typically represent learners who are focused, driven, and motivated to go against the grain – even in the face of uncertainty. They diversify campuses, provide unique voices and opinions in the discussion, and become role models for their families and communities – many of whom haven’t attended college.
Why is it so Important for Colleges and Universities to Support Them?
In every generation, leaders emerge. Students who can gain a post-secondary education have greater opportunities for better jobs, higher education, and significant contributions to their communities. Higher education institutions recognize the importance of diversity in the next generation of leaders and highly value first generation students for their contributions to the student body.