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First-Generation Frequently Asked Questions

2021 First Generation students


Who are first-generation students?

AU defines first-generation as "neither parent(s)/guardian(s) have attended college." Regardless of definition, if you feel that you are the first in your family to chart college as a new territory, AU's first-generation community welcome you!

If my sibling(s) went to college, does that mean I am not first-generation?

Keeping AU's definition of first-generation in mind, it is keeping parent(s)/guardian(s) as the marker. Siblings who either are or have experienced a college experience can definitely provide insights to helping you navigate your journey, but you might still feel confused or overwhelmed. Don't worry, it's all good! CDI staff are available for one-on-one advising appointments and can provide you with additional referrals and connections as needed.

How many first-generation students are at AU?

Over 10% of American University's population consistently self-identify as the first in their family to attend college. That's right, you're not alone!

I want to learn more about ways to support first-generation students at AU, what resources do you offer?

This is great! CDI offers a workshop that provides a snapshot of AU's first-generation population. Through this workshop, participants leave knowing more about who our first-generation students are and best practices for supporting them both inside and outside the academic arena.

The First-Gen Digital Yearbook highlights members of our AU community who identify as a first-generation college student. In this project, we spotlight faculty and staff that were once first-generation college students so that current first-gen AU students can establish and grow their support system. It will also include resources and services that benefit the first-gen community here at AU. 

Our office, along with many campus partners, work together to celerbate first gen students every year with the First Generation Week of Celebration, a weeks worth of programming to honor, celebrate, and bring together First Gen students, faculty, and staff. This year its taking place Nov 6-9, 2023

If you are an AU faculty or staff member and interested in being a part of the First-Gen Yearbook, please fill out your submission.

Are there ways to connect with others at AU who are also first-generation and at AU?

Yes! CDI is a great place to start if you are interested in speaking with others who are among the first in their family to experience college culture. Our Center also offers ways to virtually connect with the AU first-generation community through Facebook. If you are looking for events, visit the First Generation Student Union Engage page, or reach out to us about Tri Alpha, more information coming soon.

What if I have some suggestions for first-generation programming and/or connections? Who should I talk to and how does this work?

CDI is ready and willing to hear all about your ideas! Any of the professional staff in the office can help answer your questions, but we are also great for brainstorming what could be. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are strongly suggested. By setting up a meeting, CDI staff can listen to ideas, brainstorm, and suggest next steps. 

First-Gen Yearbook 2020

Yearbook highlighting the advice and experiences of AU Faculty & Staff who identify as first-gen college students. 

Download the Yearbook