First-generation students

Students walking across campus

Many students at WSU Vancouver come from families that don’t take college for granted. If neither of your parents has a college degree, you’re a first-generation college student.

For first-generation students, adjusting to college can be challenging. Fortunately, many have a deep well of personal strengths that can help them navigate the new environment. For example, they tend to bring persistence and resilience to their college experience—a quality called grit—that can be important to academic success.

At WSU Vancouver, it isn’t only a majority of students who are first-generation, but so are many faculty and staff. Consider:

  • 55%: Approximate share of WSU Vancouver first-year students who are the first in their families to attend college
  • 51%: Share of WSU Vancouver undergraduate students in 2014/2015 who met Pell eligibility requirements (indicating low household income and correlated with lack of higher education in the family)

If this means you, you should know that resources and information abound at WSU Vancouver to help you succeed.

Student ambassadors

Several student ambassadors are among the many first-generation students at WSU Vancouver. See what they have to say:

Alejandra“I am looking forward to helping empower other students to reach their academic goals by sharing my experiences as a first-generation student as well as the many resources WSU Vancouver has to offer.”

—Alejandra Rosas

Anna“My parents emigrated from Russia. I am the oldest of four children and a first-generation college student. I’m excited about this achievement. Here, people genuinely care about you.”

—Anna Shakhina

Jessica“As a first-generation college student, I was happy to find that people here are so friendly, the campus is so beautiful and it’s very organized – I feel like it’s a ‘no one left behind’ college experience.”

—Jessica Schulz

Faculty and staff

First-generation faculty and staff
Faculty and staff who have volunteered to share their first-generation experiences. Send them a message.

Helpful resources

I’m First
An online community celebrating first-generation students and supporting those who will be. Features personal stories, a blog (including the I’m First Guide to College) and a college search tool.

Michelle Obama’s I’m First video
The First Lady tells her story as part of the “I’m First” project.

First in Our Families
Digital stories of first-generation college students.

First in the Family: Your College Years
Advice about college from first-generation students, published by the Lumina Foundation.

WSU Vancouver resources

Career Services
Drop in, make an appointment or attend a workshop to learn about preparing for and finding a job.

Cougar Center
Get your questions answered about admissions, registration, financial aid and student accounts; purchase bus passes, pay tuition and more at the cashier’s desk.

Counseling Services
Free, confidential counseling if you want to talk to someone about your concerns.

First in the Family, Northwest Crimson & Gray magazine, Fall 2014
An article about how some first-generation students found the drive, the help—and the money—to make themselves and their families proud by earning their degrees.

LEAPS
A program to help students succeed in school, involving a schedule of assessments, workshops and mentoring throughout the school year.

$ALT
A financial literacy program to help navigate how to finance college, manage debt and build money skills for life. Membership is free to WSU students and alumni.

Student Diversity Center
A welcoming center for all students, providing support, resources and opportunities to get involved.

Student Financial Services
A place to learn about all types of financial aid and get help with applying for and managing your financial aid.

Student Resource Center
A great first point of contact to learn about advising, study skills, tutoring and other support available for success in college.

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