The answer is yes! In the world of higher education, about 30% of all students are first-generation, meaning they are the first in their family to attend a college. Because they are a large portion of students today, colleges and universities need to have resources available for them.
There are many scholarships out there offered specifically for first-generation students. Some are offered for students attending any college or university, while others are school specific. Take a look at our piece on the scholarship search process, or utilize these scholarship search sites to help you get started.
After your student gets to college, there are many resources typically found on campus that can help them succeed. One office they should certainly check out is the campus career center. Typically, these offices have resources for searching for jobs and internships, writing resumes and cover letters, and general career planning. At most schools, students also have the option to meet with a career advisor, who can help them with all of these resources and help them determine what career path they are interested in. Going to the career center early will help students be better prepared early on, and know what they need to have ready for their eventual career.
Living Learning Communities
At some colleges, students that intend to live on-campus have the option of choosing a Living Learning Community. This basically means that they can live in the same residence hall, on the same floors as those who share academic goals, interests, or backgrounds with one another. Some of these communities are focused on first-generation students, allowing them to have a support network of others that share similar backgrounds as they do. Living in one of these communities will not set back these students; rather, it will give them a space to feel at home. When looking into colleges, consider checking out if they have these communities for your student!
High School Counselor
Your student’s high school counselor has a wealth of knowledge on the college application process. Encourage your student to meet with their counselor about applying for college and eventually paying for it. The counselor should have information on scholarships available for first-generation students, and might be able to help your student find schools that are particularly well-known for their resources for these students. After your student gets to college, they will meet with their academic advisor and should then discuss resources the school provides to first-generation students.
Many colleges and universities have longer programs designed to assist first-generation students on their journey through college. Depending on the profile of your student, the programs may be recommended or required. Typically, first-generation students are brought together for a handful of days to learn about specific resources found on campus of the school they are attending. They may have the chance to meet with professors ahead of time, check out tutoring, writing, or math centers, and see what offices on campus are designed to help them throughout their college years.
As you can see, there are many resources centered on serving first-generation students as they navigate the world of higher education. Be proactive and check out the links mentioned above to find out more about scholarships. Use our College Matching tool to help find the perfect college for your student, and then look at school-specific scholarships and resources. You’ll never know what you might find!