First Generation Students

Welcome to NAU and to the college experience. Perseverance, resourcefulness, and hard work have helped you to make it this far. As a first generation college student, this is a particularly important achievement. First generation college students are those students whose parent(s) have not attained a bachelor’s degree. 

You may have little or no family collegiate history, and may start at NAU with limited knowledge about the jargon, traditions, and patterns of expected behavior. These factors may prevent you from fully engaging in the college experience and may contribute to early departure from NAU before the completion of your degree. 

No matter how intelligent and capable, first generation students may benefit from additional support as they adjust to a new environment.

Mentoring Programs

Student Support Services

STAR Program

First Scholars 

Olson Scholars

Fostering Success 

Tips from Students

Find a mentoring program that meets your needs.  

Prepare for the increased academic demands faced in college.

Attend class regularly, read before class, take thorough notes, complete all class assignments, and participate in study groups. 

Meet with professors or teaching assistants outside of class in order to follow up on questions about course material.

Use the services available on campus: Tutoring, Writing Center, Academic Advising & Career Services, Disability Resources.

Develop effective time management strategies. Find a calendar system that works and keep track of due dates and tasks that need to be accomplished.

Get connected and involved on campus.  At college, learning and growth happens both inside the classroom and outside of it.  Find extracurricular activities related to your major.

Balance working a job for the money with higher-impact activities.   Research indicates that students who participate in study abroad experiences, service learning, undergraduate research, and internship activities are more engaged on campus and more likely to complete their degree.  Relevant job experiences and network building is critical for the post-college job seeker.

Seek help when you recognize a problem.  Too often, first-generation college students try to do it all alone and do not seek help.  Seeking help is not a weakness; rather it is a sign of strength, resilience, and persistence.  And it can greatly impact your ability to succeed at NAU.


High School     College
Memorize material     Apply, create, analyze material
Work done in classMost work done outside of class
Consistent schedule     Inconsistent schedules
Many tests, quizzes, and projects2 or 3 tests or projects (high stakes)

Other Resources

I’m First

First Generation Student

FAFSA (Federal Student Aid)

Workshop Series

Who Am I?

As a first-generation college student, you are embarking on a journey you and others close to you may know little about at first. However, in your life, you have demonstrated strengths and skills which have gotten you to this new point in your life. Come and meet other first-generation students, share your own story, and give and receive support to others like yourself. Just because you are the first in your family to go to college does not mean that you have to figure things out on your own. 

Culture Shock
High school and college can be very different. Different teachers and different expectations. Let’s talk about these differences and strategize how you can be academically successful at NAU. 

How to Talk to Your Family About College
They just don’t understand! Do you have trouble talking with your family about issues that come up at college? This workshop will help you identify your support system and learn strategies for talking with your family about college expectations and priorities. 

Financing College
College can be expensive when you add up four years of tuition, fees, textbooks, housing, food, utilities, transportation, etc. Finding the money to help pay for those expenses can be challenging. This workshop will help you get ready to submit your FAFSA, identify and apply for scholarships, and find cost-saving strategies for college expenses.

Classroom Participation and Advice from Faculty
How can you be a great student? If your parents went to college, they probably shared all kinds of tips and advice with you. But if you are the first in your family to go to college, you may be wondering how to make this college experience a success. Join us for a conversation about classroom participation and advice from faculty. 

Managing Your Time and Your Energy
From goal setting to time management, we could all use a little help to become a great student. In this interactive workshop, we’ll learn strategies for managing our time and energy in order to achieve our highest goals. 

Opportunities to Take Your Education to the Next Level
From studying abroad to internships and undergraduate research, there are many ways to take your education beyond the walls of the classroom. Hear from other first generation college students who have found these opportunities and learn from their experiences. 

Creating a Resume/Vita and ePortfolio
What does a professional resume/vita look like? How can you create an effective ePortfolio when you apply for internships, summer jobs, or your first job after college? Join us to learn some tips and tricks when it comes to selling yourself as a strong candidate in today’s competitive job market.

Celebrating Firsts Reception
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of our graduating first generation college students, as well as recognize the contributions of faculty and staff who are cultivating a supportive climate on the Flagstaff campus.

We are seeking nominations to recognize an outstanding first generation graduating senior and a faculty or staff member who has served as an advocate for first generation students at Northern Arizona University. 

Outstanding Graduating Senior Award (Awarded Fall and Spring terms)

Recognizes a first generation college student with strong leadership skills, a demonstrated care and concern for fellow students, and a history of involvement at NAU.

Outstanding Advocate Award  (Awarded Spring term only)

Recognizes a faculty or staff member who has served as an advocate for first generation students at Northern Arizona University

DEADLINE: November 22, 2013, at Noon.

Please return completed nomination forms to Wendy Bruun by e-mail: