U-M Counseling and Psychological Services

Who are First-Generation (first-gen) Students?  First-gen students are typically defined as the first person in a family to attend a college or 4-year university (in the United States).  First-gen students are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status.  In 2016, approximately 13% of students at University of Michigan were classified as first-gen.  Find more information about UM First Generation Students HERE

The following sections were contributed by UM Students who identify as First Generation.

Common Strengths:

  • Resilience
  • Autonomy to create your own path
  • Goal-setting​
  • Learning quickly

Common Challenges:

  • Academics
  • ​Financial instability
  • Mental health stressors
  • College adjustment
  • Navigating campus
  • Transitioning from school to home life
  • Dealing with family expectations and pressure

Campus Resources:

What if You Need Help?

  • Seek Clinical Services - schedule an initial consultation with a CAPS counselor

  • Find a Mentor/Support Group - reach out to someone you trust such as your friends, peers, coaches, professors, high-school teachers, and so on

  • Contact Your Advisor - gain study & time management skills, and stay on track for graduation

  • Build Relationships With Your Professors - stop by their office hours to introduce yourself

How to Talk to Your Family:

First-gen students may experience difficulties gaining adequate support from their family members throughout the duration of college because their parents or siblings are not aquainted with higher education. Although you know your family best, we have some recommendations.


  • Be open and honest when communicating

  • Be patient

  • Set goals with your parents/family and check in frequently

  • Invest your family in your experiences through exposure, such as sharing information about what you’re learning in classes and on-campus activities you’re participating in