First-Generation Students

Students who represent the first generation in their family to go to college; they are the first in their immediate families to earn a bachelor's degree.

group of self identified first generation students

Tips for Advising

First gen facts and resources are available online. As of the current writing, on the Twin Cities campus, typically 25% of undergraduate students are the first in their families to attend college.  This includes 19.6% of incoming freshmen and 38% of new transfer students. First-generation students bring many strengths to campus, including being resourceful, self-reliant, practical, flexible, persistent, etc. These are the kinds of strengths first-generation students use as they navigate the culture shock of an unfamiliar higher education system or as they experience other systemic barriers on campus.

While first-generation students are not monolithic, effective advising tips include but are not limited to any of these practices:

  • Encourage identity development: Support students in learning how to be their authentic selves within the hierarchy of higher education.
  • Be inquisitive and empathetic: Develop relationships with students so they know they matter to you.
  • Focus on individual student goals and encourage agency: Lift up student voices and goals and give students more time to explore and develop ideas 
  • Support the development of community and a sense of belonging: Navigate students to resources and community on campus that fits their individual identities and interests.

Referring Students

While the University pays close attention to first-generation students, there is no specific program or service designated to serve the entire community. There are significant numbers of first-generation students in the President's Emerging Scholars program as well as the TRIO Student Support Services program. Advisors may consult with staff in either program for ideas or resources on advising first-generation college students.