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Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How First Generation Applications Are Reviewed

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Malik Farr in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:



In this article, we will discuss how first generation students’ college applications are reviewed and what kinds of other relevant factors are considered during the review process. 


Are First-Generation Students’ Applications Reviewed Differently?


When it comes to the admissions office, an application from a first-generation student doesn’t get reviewed any differently. However, having that information about a student can provide a bit more insight for the admissions office when it comes to looking at their transcript or test scores. 

First-generation students often do not have the same resources as students whose parents have college degrees. This knowledge will be taken into account and help the admissions office reflect while reviewing their applications. 


If the academics on a student’s transcripts aren’t as competitive as other applications, the admissions office can look at other parts of the application for an explanation. Maybe the school they attended didn’t have college counseling or those were the most rigorous classes offered. They might not have had the guidance or support system needed to make those difficult decisions during their high school education. All of these factors are taken into account.


One advantage first-generation students have during the admissions process is access to more scholarships. There are many scholarships designed to specifically help students who are the first in their family to go to college. These scholarships might come from the school they’ve been accepted to or from an outside source. If you are interested in applying for these scholarships, there are many online resources to help find these opportunities. Talk with your guidance counselor as well. They might know of some scholarships you are eligible to apply for.


Looking Into a Student’s Academic History


College classrooms are different from high school classes because the rigor intensifies dramatically. College students need to put a lot of effort into their studies and there won’t be as much guidance in the class as there is in high school. When it comes to looking at the academic history of a first-generation student, it is important for the admissions office to determine if the prospective student will have the academic capacity to ensure their success in these difficult classes. Knowing a student is a first-generation student will help the admissions office determine that. The academic history is of course just one part of a student’s application. Academic materials, extracurriculars, and test scores are all evaluated as a whole in the admissions process. 


Optional Application Materials


If a school says an application component is optional but still considered, it can be a difficult decision if you want to submit that material or not. This optional material could be anything from recommendation letters to test scores. While you don’t have to submit these items to apply, they provide the admissions office with more information about your application.


If you have a mentor or teacher you have worked well with in the past, go ahead and ask if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Any item in the application, whether optional or not, will help the admissions office get to know you better. A letter of recommendation from a teacher who speaks highly of you will only help your chances of being submitted. Colleges put items like this as optional because they can often be affected by factors outside of your control. However, if the teacher you wanted to ask for a recommendation isn’t available to write one, the college won’t hold it against you.