First Generation at UM

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First generation students are a diverse group of students in terms of race, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic background. There are approximately 4,000 of students at the University of Michigan who identify as first generation. This group of students may face unique challenges, but may find resources here on our webpage. Find more information on UM First-Gen students HERE.


“First generation student” can apply to a number of circumstances, and there are varied definitions across universities. Generally, to be considered first generation, a student must be the first in their family to attend a college or 4-year university. These students are skilled academically and contribute to their campus communities in a number of ways!

This is the belief that, despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishment, one may believe that they are not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise. It can be experienced internally as feelings of inadequacy, chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence. Practicing self-compassion and ceasing comparisons can be helpful for students who may experience these difficulties. Discussing these feelings and emotions with others, as well as affirming the hard work and strengths can be validating as well as empowering.

Defining the hidden curriculum: The hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives that students learn in school. While the “formal” curriculum consists of the courses, lessons, and learning activities students participate in, as well as the knowledge and skills educators intentionally teach to students, the hidden curriculum consists of the unspoken or implicit academic, social, and cultural messages that are communicated to students while they are in school.

This may pose a challenge to some students of color because they may have a difficult time adapting to the culture of a school, balancing aspects of their identity, and navigating financial challenges as well. This group of students may also encounter feelings of guilt for leaving the family home or not being able to support them. They may also feel pressure to measure up to family expectations.

As a first-generation student, these individuals are becoming a part of a new wave of professionals who have a different perspective and outlook in their careers. The following are characteristics of first-generation students:

  • Pioneer
  • Resourceful
  • Intentional
  • Thoughtful

Full article: Faculty as bridges to co-curricular engagement and community for first-generation international students 

  • First @ Umich
  • Comprehensive Studies Program
  • OAMI
  • Services for Students with Disabilities
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Content created by Kat Reyes