Loyola University Chicago

Achieving College Excellence

Student Academic Services

First Generation College Student Resources

This page lists some resources for students who are "first generation" and how to successfully make that transition to college life, which is often different than for students whose parents have already navigated the college experience.

Who is First Generation?

Students are considered “First Generation” if their parents/legal guardians have not completed a four-year college degree.

Some experiences we may have in common are:

  • Being the first in the family to navigate a university system.
  • Overcoming past obstacles to reach this achievement.
  • Managing the "two worlds" of school and home.
  • Feeling pressure to excel as the first in the family to make it to college.
  • Relating to peers who do not share the experience of being First Generation.
  • Learning unspoken cultural norms and expectations of university life.
  • Explaining the demands and rigors of college life to family and friends.

(Adapted from M.I.T.)



Within Loyola:

SOAR (Seizing Opportunities for Academic Resilience)

30 first year freshmen and first year transfer students who identify as a student of color and/or first generation are invited to attend a three night experience immediately prior to the start of the academic year. Through learning about the transition to college, gaining tools, sharing stories about personal and academic success, this experience will provide the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with peers, current students, and staff. 
STARS (Students Together Are Reaching Success) Program STARS is a peer mentorship and college success program that connects first-year students with successful upperclassmen for one-on-one and group mentoring. Students also have the opportunity to attend social & cultural events, participate in workshops on academic success, and be part of experiences to enhance their leadership skills. Students who identify with either of the following backgrounds are especially encouraged to join STARS: First-generation college students, Students of color.
Library Resources

The following books are available either at the Loyola library or via Interlibrary Loan, in which you can request books from other libraries, and they will come a couple days later for you to check-out from the Loyola library:

  • 50 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About College: Straight Talk for First Generation College Students from first Generation College Graduates by Angel Flores - available via interlibrary loan, but that is good practice to get used to doing those
  • First in the Family: Your College Years, Advice About College from First-Generation Students –available in Lewis Stacks
  • The First-Generation College Experience by Amy Baldwin– via interlibrary loan, at schools close by
  • I Can Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide by Marcia Y Cantarella – via interlibrary loan, at libraries close by


Beyond Loyola:

College Crew A blog written by eleven students raised in Minnesota, who are all the first in their family to attend college.  They are enrolled at a variety of colleges across the U.S., and reading about their experiences can help our students with their own adjustment to college.
First Generation Student: What it takes to get to and through college A website dedicated to learning from other first-generation college students with information on everything from how to pay for college to how to succeed in college – all focusing on the unique experience (and sometimes obstacles and fears) of being the first in your family to go to college.
I’m First An online community celebrating first-generation college students and supporting those who will be, since as they say, “there’s something special about being first.”
How Parents Can Help An article listing tips for parents of students who are the first in their family to attend college on how to help their children succeed in college.
The Struggle to be First An article written by a first-generation college graduate at another university who wrote about the challenges students face when their parents have not attended college.  Can be helpful for both first-generation college students and parents to read, in order to better understand the sometimes mixed messages students face.
The Unique Challenges of a First-Generation College Student An article written by a faculty member at another university, expanding on the unique challenges that college students who are the first in their family to pursue a college degree may face.  Touches upon why first-gen students decide to attend college, what that experience is like compared to students whose parents did go to a college, and how colleges can create a more welcoming environment for first-generation college students.