First Generation students are typically defined as students who do not have a parent or legal guardian who has completed a four year degree. This information may be available from your advisees Common Application in their student file. This information is self reported. Do not assume that a student is, or is not First Gen based on the Common Application alone. Students may reveal this information as you get to know them.
First Gen students may face challenges as they learn to navigate college life as they may not have a person at home who can help with the complex terrain of higher education both academically and socially. They may be the first person in their family network to attend college, which may also pose unexpected changes in family dynamics and create additional pressures on these students. First Gen students also may be more career focused and require more understanding of the nature of college learning and understanding of a liberal arts education. Additionally, financial pressures may require them to be employed in order to attend college.
As an advisor, you should take more time with First Gen students in order to ensure that they have an understanding of:
- The reasoning behind and importance of all aspects of our college curriculum including major/minor requirements, GARs and electives;
- terminology that is typically used on campus (e.g. office hours, credit hours, drop/add, incomplete grades, etc);
- Academic resources available to them such as tutoring services, the Writing Center, Academic Resource Center, Office of Disability Services, Pre health or Pre law advising (see Referral Guide to help you identify resources);
- non Academic resources such as the Career Center, Counseling Center, Office of Multicultural Life, Religious Life, Office of Community Engagement
- Academic policies connected to financial aid (e.g., Academic Standing Policy and gpa requirement to declare a major/minor);
- The First Gen Support Group and Tri-Alpha Honor Society, operating through Dawn Lonsinger and the Office of Multicultural Life; and
If your advisee is in need of additional financial resources for expenses connect them to this webpage: https://www.muhlenberg.edu/financialhardship/.