What Does it Mean to Be a First Generation Student?
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Malik Farr and Alexander Oddo in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Being a First Generation Student
The experience of being first generation is unique to each and every student. Broadly speaking, students who are “first generation” are the first in their family to receive a Bachelor’s degree. This identity is a badge of honor, representing the hard work and sacrifices of a student, multiple generations of their family, and their community. By identifying as and speaking to the experience of being first generation, students who share this identity demonstrate to others that there are people of all backgrounds that exist and are successfully navigating higher education.
There may be some variation in how schools define “first generation.” Typically, schools will consider a student to be first generation if their parents did not receive a Bachelor’s degree from an institution within the United States. This is likely because the college admissions process and experience are quite different in the United States from those in other countries.
Gaining Admission and the College Experience
Certain schools are pursuing concrete goals to increase the number of first generation students that matriculate. Of course, in pursuing such a goal, a school has the obligation to make sure that first generation students are set-up for success so that they can thrive once they arrive on campus. This means that a holistic approach to admissions is necessary in order to identify students that are prepared for the academic rigors of college. Moreover, schools need to implement and maintain the proper academic, extracurricular, social, health, and financial support systems that are needed to support first-generation students throughout their college careers.
Applicants can identify schools that are welcoming and supportive of first generation students by reviewing the school’s website and social media, looking at the profile of past classes of admitted students, and researching schools that offer scholarships, pre-orientation, orientation, and term-time programming for first generation students. It can also be helpful to reach out to current students to ask about their experience and whether they feel supported.
If you are a first generation student looking for more guidance in the college process, check out this article about how to start the college process or this one about how first generation students’ applications are reviewed.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
While some schools have acceptance rates that are incredibly low, your personal chances of acceptance may actually be higher or lower. If your academic profile is weak, some colleges may not look at the rest of your application at all. On the flip side, if your grades and test scores are strong, and you have outstanding extracurriculars, you may have a better shot of getting in.
To better understand your chances of acceptance, we recommend using our free admissions calculator. Using your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, we’ll estimate your odds of acceptance, and give you tips on improving your profile.
You can also search for best-fit schools based on your chances, and on other factors like size, location, majors and more. This tool will make it a lot easier to create a strategy for your college application process.