First Generation Students

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First Generation Student Resources

Are you a first generation college student?

If so, you’re in good company. Roughly 30 percent of Reinhardt students are first generation college students, and we work hard to ensure that you have the support and resources to thrive as a vital member of the Reinhardt Family.

Being a first generation college student is more than coming from a background where your parents or guardians did not graduate from college. Like you, these exceptional students are forging new ground as they venture into the unknown world of higher education. These students come to college with many strengths, including motivation, resilience, responsibility, and commitment. Being first generation is something to be proud of as you have an incredible opportunity to write your own story, create your own community, and thrive here at Reinhardt!

We recognize that you will face unique experiences as you begin this exciting journey, and we look forward to supporting you and bringing together the first generation Reinhardt community!

The Office of the Dean of Students is committed to making first-generation students feel at home at Reinhardt and supporting them throughout their time on campus. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students at deanofstudents@reinhardt.edu or (770) 720-5540.

Start here to find a supportive community that can help you succeed throughout your campus journey, including tips and resources to facilitate your success and transition at Reinhardt!

6 Things Only First Generation College Students Understand

  • 1

    Feeling the Pressure of being an academic pioneer

    Many first generation college students may feel extra pressure is put on them to succeed. Success is not just for yourself, but also for the entire family and/or community. It is important to talk to your friends, family, and community to make sure they know how you feel. There are also places on campus that you can help you, such as:

  • 2

    Feeling like everyone else gets something you don't get

    Being the first in the family to undergo the college experience can be hard. It may seem like other students already "just know" what to do. Since they have friends, family, and/or community allies that may have talked with them about the college experience, they are "in the know."  Let your professors know you are a first generation college student. They may be able to help you out by giving you advice, tips, and tricks to planning and navigating a successful college career.

  • 3

    Trying to Navigate Bureaucracy

    Filing paperwork, having repetitive conversations, making sure financial aid is covered, and signing up for classes can be entirely confusing to someone who has never had to do it before. It is so important to remain strong when facing difficult barriers.  The Student Services Resources page gives you access to a wide range of services that enhances college life for all students - from housing to health to business needs.

  • 4

    Self-Doubt

    Many first generation college students describe feelings of self-doubt in reference to academic and social performance. Some first gen students even admit that they do not think they are good or smart enough to be in college. Talking with friends or professors can help give you an accurate assessment of how you are doing at Reinhardt. The Counseling Services also offers individual sessions for those who want to discuss their worry or self-doubt more in-depth, in a private and secure setting.

  • 5

    Managing Financial Aid / Worrying about money

    College is expensive. We can appreciate the struggle of having to make sacrifices or foregoing experiences to make ends meet. Planning the college experience also means planning financially and most first gen college students have to do this on their own.  Talking with the Office of Financial Aid throughout the semester can be helpful. They may be able to secure funding for extra expenses.

  • 6

    Being a First Gen College Student is a sense of pride

    No one will be able to take this experience away from you. There is something truly special and exciting about graduating college as a first gen college student. Remember to take pride in your accomplishments!

FAQs for First Generation Students

It’s actually very common to feel guilty about being admitted into college — especially when you’re the first in your family to speak English fluently or be able to continue your education past middle school or high school. However, you should know that your family wants the best for you, your education is important to your future success, and you’re not alone in your experience.

There are lots of classes to take and majors to consider in pursuit of a degree at Reinhardt, but you’re not alone in being unsure of your career or major. Click here to learn more about Reinhardt’s academic programs. Try taking classes that interest you and ones in which you have a natural aptitude for the subject matter.

Surprisingly, private colleges and universities can be even more affordable than public institutions or community colleges, due to the relative amount of financial aid that is needed to afford tuition. In addition, federal Pell grants are examples of programs designed to help fund educational expenses for students.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) provides a number of government-funded grant and loan options for applicants from all income levels, and there are also scholarships specifically designed for first generation college students like yourself. Reinhardt University’s Office of Financial Aid is here to help.

FAQs for Parents of First Generation Students

Your son or daughter has a number of educational and financial aid options available to them, should they decide to apply to any college or university. Most admissions pages link to information about financial aid, programs of study, academic calendars — as well as options for nontraditional students such as transfer, and international applicants.

The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that 88 percent of college graduates were employed full-time in 2016, compared to only 69 percent of high school graduates. Furthermore, lifetime earning potential increases dramatically the further students go in school.

Reinhardt University provides guidance through the Office of Financial Aid to help guide families through the process of applying for scholarships, grants, and loans. Federal Pell grants are designed to help fund educational expenses for the families of first generation college students.

There is a lot to take in during your child’s first year attending college either on-campus or online, and parents of first generation college students may feel especially confused about where to start. However, you’re not alone. Be sure to listen to your student, keep an open mind, and seek out as much information as you can.

Seek out community support from neighbors and friends who can relate to what you’re going through. Find peers at parent-teacher nights and via extended family members who may be experiencing the same thing. There is strength in numbers!

First in the Family: Your College Years: Advice About College From First-Generation Students

A guidebook offering advise straight from first-generation students telling their peers how to stay in college and graduate.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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