First-Generation College Students

Female graduate

First generation college students are typically identified as students whose parents have not received a college or university level education. They are often the first in their families to graduate from college.

These students come to college with many strengths, including motivation, resilience, responsibility, and commitment. We at the Counseling Center are committed to offering our support to first generation students.

6 Things Only First Generation College Students Understand

1. Feeling the Pressure of Being an Academic Pioneer

Many first generation college students may feel extra pressure is put on them to succeed. Success is not just for yourself, but also for the entire family and/or community. 

It is important to talk to your friends, family, and community to make sure they know how you feel. There are also places on campus that you can help you, such as:

2. Feeling Like Everyone Else Gets Something You Don't Get

Being the first in the family to undergo the college experience can be hard. It may seem like other students already "just know" what to do. Since they have friends, family, and/or community allies that may have talked with them about the college experience, they are "in the know."

Let your professors know you are a First Generation college student. They may be able to help you out by giving you advice, tips, and tricks to planning and navigating a successful college career.

3. Trying to Navigate Bureaucracy

Filing paperwork, having repetitive conversations, making sure financial aid is covered, and signing up for classes can be entirely confusing to someone who has never had to do it before. It is so important to remain strong when facing difficult barriers.

The following webpage gives you access to a wide range of services that enhances college life for all students - from housing to health to business needs.

4. Self-Doubt

Many first generation college students describe feelings of self-doubt in reference to academic and social performance. Some first gen students even admit that they do not think they are good or smart enough to be in college. Talking with friends or professors can help give you an accurate assessment of how you are doing at TU.

The Counseling Center also offers individual sessions for those who want to discuss their worry or self-doubt more in-depth.

5. Managing Financial Aid / Worrying About Money

College is expensive. We can appreciate the struggle of having to make sacrifices or foregoing experiences to make ends meet. Planning the college experience also means planning financially and most first gen college students have to do this on their own.

Talking with the Financial Aid Office throughout the semester can be helpful. They may be able to secure funding for extra expenses.

6. Being a First Gen College Student is a Sense of Pride

No one will be able to take this experience away from you. There is something truly special and exciting about graduating college as a first gen college student. Remember to take pride in your accomplishments!



The Support for Student Success Program (S3) is a program for incoming students TU offers which includes orientation, mentoring, tutoring, and specialized advising.

SAGE Mentoring Program promotes academic achievement and fosters a sense of belonging for under-served students. The program includes match with mentors as well as weekly activities.

The Academic Achievement Center is a full service learning center that provides tutoring, workshops, coaching, and placement testing.

The Counseling Center offers individual and group counseling, workshops, and programs to help students make the most of their college experience.

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