First Gen Student Resources
5 Tips for Success for a First Generation Student by a First Generation Student
1. Connect with your Advisor
Your advisor can help you with many things, including answering questions and giving academic advice.
2. Attend Campus Events
These events are designed to help incoming students navigate campus and college as a whole!
3. Know your Resources
There are so many offices and resources on campus to help you succeed academically and personally. A Glossary of terms is also helpful to understand college language.
4. Get Involved
KU has many organizations on campus for you to connect with! Attend the free events throughout the semester hosted by the Office of Student Involvement.
5. Stay Organized
With classes, clubs, work and everything in between, it is important to stay organized and keep track of it all. Planners, calendars, phone reminders, and other phone apps like the MyKU Mobile App, can be very useful! Also, don't forget your email!
Kelvin is a First Generation college student graduating from KU in Spring of 2022. Kelvin is currently majoring in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. He is from the Dominican Republic but lives in Philadelphia, PA. Kelvin is Vice President and Workshop Chair of the Newman Council. He also works on campus for the New Student Orientation Program as a facilitator. His advice to First Gen students is to remember to be yourself. He believes the Kutztown University has given him the opportunity to feel comfortable as himself.
Alexandra Ramirez Valerio
Alexandra is a First Generation college student graduating from KU in Fall of 2019. Alex is currently majoring in Psychology with minors in Business and Spanish for Modern Business. She is from the Dominican Republic but lives in Allentown, PA. She is involved in the Student Alliance for Leadership success and Achievement (SALSA) and the Psychology club. She works on campus for the New Student Orientation Program as a facilitator and was the Transfer Student Program Coordinator in summer of 2019. Her advice to First Gen students is: Remember that you are not alone. I'm the first in my family to go to college in the United States. There has been a language barrier to overcome and I have made it this far. Just because we're different doesn't mean that we don't have the capability to succeed. I believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Robert McGowan is a First Generation college student graduating from KU in 2020. Robert is currently majoring in Middle Level Education focusing on math and science. He is from Reading, PA. He is involved with Swing Dance Club, KUMU, League of Legends E-Sport Team, and Association of Middle Level Education. Robert also works on campus in the Office of New Student Orientation and for the Phonathon Program. His advice to First Gen students is: Reach out. You already paid for the services on campus and all that's left is to use them. Being a First Gen student has encouraged me to to reach out for what I needed since I had to take responsibility for my college experience.
Van Ahn Thi (Aris) Nguyen
Aris Nguyen is a First Generation college student graduating from KU in 2022 from Vietnam. Aris is currently majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies. She is involved with New Student Orientation, Pre-Law societies and the Honors Club. Her advice to First Gen students is: Be mindful of what you do during your college time because you can be role model to anyone. Being a First Gen student empowered me to be more responsible for what I do.
Susan Mangold is a First Generation faculty member here at KU working as the Student Assistance Coordinator. Susan has been at KU for 30 years! Her advice to First Gen students is: Get to know your professors and don't be afraid to ask for help. Work with CASA and other support services to make a weekly schedule and a semester schedule to stay on task with your academics so you don't fall behind. Go to class; buy your textbooks. It can be easy to fall behind without someone like a parent or teacher to keep pushing you, so you need to rely on yourself to stay on track. Get involved in activities/clubs on campus.
Bruce Jenson is a First Gen emerging Technologies Librarian. Bruce has been working here at KU for 10 years after doing interesting work in three countries. Bruce's advice to First Gen students is: Use the library. Seriously -- it's easier than you think! Plus, the library at KU is about so much more than frozen textual information. You've got the Writing Center happy to help, you've got the Tutoring Center downstairs, CASA people to support you -- plus there's a cafe, for crying out loud! And an outdoor sundeck and tons of perfect study spots throughout. Don't forget the STEAMworks maker space downstairs; that's my favorite place of all.
Dr. Joleen Greenwood
Dr. Greenwood is the Department Chair of the Anthropology and Sociology department. She was a First Generation college student who now holds a Ph.D. and has been working here for 10 years. Her advice to First Generation college students is: Do not be afraid to ask questions. Participate in class, ask questions in class, and get to know your professors. Your professors want you to succeed in college and are there to help you. Visit professors during office hours and be sure to have good communication with them, whether it is through email or face-to-face.
Olivia Harwick is another First Generation college student graduating in 2019 from KU. She majors in Art Education, with a minor in German Communication and Culture. Olivia is very active on campus and works a few jobs. Her advice to First Gen students is: Advocate for yourself. Be sure to ask questions whenever you have them. There are plenty of resources and offices on campus to help you with anything you need. Seek out programs that are of interest to you. Check out the involvement fair to learn about dozens of clubs and organizations. Don't be afraid to branch out and find what you like.
Briana is a Class of 2018 First Generation college student. Briana majored in sociology here at KU and was very involved on campus. Her advice to First Gen students is: Don't be afraid to change. College is the time and place where you discover who you truly are. You'll find whatever it is you're passionate about, and it may not be what you originally thought and planned.
Giovanna Bova is a First Generation college student graduating from KU in 2019. Giovanna is currently majoring in Middle-Level Education and Special Education, focusing on math and science and is involved with CONNECTIONS. Her advice to First Gen students is: Use the resources around you. I struggled a lot my freshman year because I was afraid to ask questions. Once I became more educated about Kutztown University, I realized there are so many free resources at the tip of my fingers. Places like the Writing Center and CASA (Center for Academic Success and Achievement) can help you through this new process. Also, try not to get in over your head. I know some may want to get super involved, but only take on the workload that you can handle. Everyone at KU wants you to succeed; it's okay if it takes longer than it's "supposed" to.
How to Pay for School
Contacting the Office of Financial Aid Services with any questions and concerns can help you feel more confident about paying for school. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year is necessary if you want financial aid. Keep a copy of all necessary documents, make sure you research what it means to receive financial aid, and look into the financial aid packages you are given.
As a first-generation college student, you may also be eligible for first-generation college student Scholarships.
Setting the Stage for Career Goals
Networking is an area where many first-generation students have little experience, but it all changes here at KU!
There are plenty of campus resources that we encourage students to become familiar with throughout their time here at KU. The Career Development Center offers hands-on career advising and resume critiques that assist students in highlighting their involvement and skillsets.
Graduate School and Beyond
There are many routes a student can take after graduation. Graduate school is a popular option after graduation.
When thinking about graduate school, it's important to remind yourself of all the great accomplishments you've achieved thus far. Stop by the Graduate Admissions Office located in the Boxwood House on Main Street to learn more.
Check out these resources and articles about navigating college as a first-generation college student:
- KU's Dr. Clemens's Article on Supporting First Gen Students
- The New York Times: First Generation Students Unite
- The New York Times: Taking my parents to college
- The Washington Post: Guilt is one of the biggest struggles first-generation college students face
- U.S. News: Prepare for College as a First Generation Student
- The AASCU is looking for First Generation Voices