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12 college programs for first-generation college students

    If the idea of being a first-generation college student has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, have no fear! Many colleges provide the academic, financial, and social resources needed to help with the transition and best set you up for success. Many even have first-generation-targeted programs to ensure you get connected to the resources they offer to first-generation students.

    Here are 12 colleges that offer programs for first-generation students.

    1. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

    UCLA’s First to Go program promotes the on-campus visibility and involvement of first-generation college students by hosting networking events, advertising first-generation students and faculty, and maintaining a first-generation student alumni network.

    They also provide first-generation students with an inclusive living center called the First to Go Living Learning Community. Any student can join if they identify as a first-generation student.

    2. Yale University

    Yale’s The Community Initiative (also known as the FGLI community initiative) seeks to help support first-generation students experiencing culture shock by facilitating discourse and connecting students with resources. The initiative aims to help first-generation students get what they need to succeed at school through community building.

    3. Brown University

    The Undocumented, First-Generation College, and Low-Income Student Center at Brown provides a communal space dedicated to learning with a focus on first-generation students, along with undocumented and low-income students. These efforts include a year-long community enrichment program dubbed the FLi Scholars program and student development opportunities.

    4. Harvard University  

    Harvard’s First-Generation Program is dedicated to building a community, easing the transition into college, and advocating for first-generation students. There’s also a student-run organization called Harvard Primus to support first-generation students as they apply to college.

    5. Williams College

    Williams Firsts seeks to support all students who are the first in their families to head off to college. This encompasses everything from supplying students with resources to assisting them with moving into the dorms for the first time. If you’re a first-generation student, you’ll have access to a pre-orientation, Williams Firsts student board, conferences, and a reflective graduation ceremony.

    6. University of Pennsylvania

    The University of Pennsylvania’s Greenfield Intercultural Center houses the First-Generation, Low-Income (FGLI) Program. The FGLI program aims to combat the isolation that first-generation students might feel by developing a sense of community.

    7. Amherst College

    This college hosts first-generation college student programs and events to foster a sense of community and connect students with resources. These include a family reception, a student reception, and a commencement dinner for graduating first-generation students. The school also offers a dedicated Next-Gen Leadership Institute, a five-day program for first-generation and low-income students focused on community building and leadership development.

    8. University of Chicago

    The University of Chicago’s First-Generation Lower Income Immigrant Network actively connects students, teachers, and faculty in a concerted effort to foster inclusivity. In tandem with offering a sense of community, the University of Chicago provides first-generation students the opportunity to graduate debt-free.

    If first-generation students aren’t covered by the school’s No Barriers policy, which ensures in-need students graduate debt-free, they offer $20,000 over four years through their Empower Initiative.

    9. Stanford University

    The school’s FLI Student Success Center aims to support first-generation and low-income students’ academic and social transition into college. The center’s efforts include a mentorship program, study nights, and more. There’s also an opportunity fund and grant money available to students.

    10. Texas Tech University

    Texas Tech offers a support structure through its First Generation Transition & Mentoring Programs. Their programs focus on peer mentorship, social engagement, and student success activities. They also have a scholarship that first-generation students can apply for.

    11. University of Cincinnati

    The school’s Gen-1 Program is a living-learning community focused on first-generation students that aims to help transition students from high school to college so they can achieve academic, personal, and social success.

    The program has a unique approach to academics with its tutoring, advising, mentoring, and study session support via its Ambassador Contract, which all Gen-1 students agree to.

    A scholarship is also offered for housing assistance for upper-class students living off-campus. 

    12. University of Michigan

    The University of Michigan’s First-Generation Student Gateway is a support space for first-generation students at the university. Students at the university can use the space to find resources specific to first-generation students, connect to partner offices for support as a first-generation student, connect with the First-Generation Project Manager, and as a general meeting space.

    Final thoughts

    Being a first-generation college student can come with unique challenges, which is why it can be helpful to seek out a college program that will support you. Don’t be afraid to ask about first-generation-specific programs colleges offer as you consider where to attend.