Thursday, April 9, 2015

Resources for First-Generation College Students

The first-year students who move onto campus every fall have expectations and anxieties about their time in a new environment. Although all students are now living separately from their parents, some were left with more support than others when they were dropped off on move-in day. Here at UMass Amherst, 25% of freshmen are first-generation college students, meaning that their parents did not attend college or obtain at least a bachelor’s degree.  For the other three quarters of first-years, their transition to university life is shaped to a degree by the expectations of the parents who have the experiences of college under their belt.  

Retaining first-generation students is important not only for the universities, but for the students’ social mobility and economic success later in life.  Because first-generation college students are the pioneers of the complicated workings of a university, they must be more proactive in finding resources on and off-campus.  Below are some helpful resources for first-generation college students to aid in their success and transition to college!

Websites like and are informational online communities where students aspiring to go to college or students attending college can get information on an array of subjects, from the undergraduate and graduate application process to how to feel like part of the student body once you arrive! Other web pages such as this tip sheet from the New York Times give thoughtful pieces of advice to students on how to succeed in their studies.

At UMass, the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success has wonderful resources for first- generation (as well as other) students at the University. Check out their website for a rundown of programs and services. 

UMass Amherst also looks to extend extra help towards first-generation college students by offering additional scholarships. Information can be found on the UMass website, and through individual department websites.

However, UMass does not only offer financial supportthe flagship campus at Amherst is reaching out to first-generation college students and students from low-income families through a new policy that will be in effect this upcoming fall semester. For students who transfer from in-state community colleges with a minimum 2.5 GPA, the university gives priority course registration and housing priority, generous scholarships, and tailored advising services.

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