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First Generation Programs

Define First-Generation Students

Gray scale Head shot Photos of First Scholars


If your parent or legal guardian did not complete a bachelor's degree, then you and any siblings you have are considered first-generation college students.

First Gen Facts:

Nearly 40% of WSU students are first-generation college students. We know that college success, especially for first-generation college students, is not solely determined by the ability to earn high grades or test scores. Instead, there are non-cognitive factors (skills determined by an individual's personality) that may have a stronger influence upon a student's ability to succeed. When we work with first-generation college students, we use an approach that is designed to support and address factors such as the student's personal or social beliefs, motivations, attitudes, maturity level, commitment to goals, and the ability to engage socially with others. 

We also know that first-generation students sometimes lack the cultural and social capital necessary for a smooth transition to college, which means there can be an absence of insider knowledge and the interpersonal relationships that give others an advantage to knowing how the college system works in terms of preparedness and expectations.

First-generation college students sometimes face the following obstacles when attending college:

  • Limited access to information about the college experience, either firsthand or from relatives.
  • Lack of knowledge about time management, college finances, budgeting and the bureaucratic operations of higher education.
  • Absence of support from, or a cultural conflict between the home and college communities.
  • Susceptibility to doubts about academic abilities.
  • Perception that they are “not college material” and thus have decreased motivation to try.
    Struggle to maintain a balance between work, family and school responsibilities.
  • Additionally, first-gen students often feel isolated at college. They report limited support from parents, university faculty, staff and peers.

To help ensure first-generation college students have access to the resources needed to succeed at WSU, our staff provide: 

  • Awareness and Knowledge
  • Access and Connections
  • Engagement and Community
  • Expertise and Guidance
  • Confidence and Opportunity
  • Expanded Experiences and Perspectives
  • Resources and Networks
  • Strengths and Skills Development

With this support, first-generation students are empowered to reach their potential, build a solid foundation for graduation, and lead a fulfilled life of self-awareness, personal success, and significance.

WSU faculty and staff who were also first-generation college students will be wearing this pin to welcome you to campus!