Entering college is a huge transition for any first-year student. For those entering as a first-generation student, that transition can bring additional challenges.

As part of National First-Generation College Celebration Week, First Generation Student Success (FGSS) is offering a week of support programs, resource explorations, and social experiences that reflects FGSS’s year-round services for first-generation students at Virginia Tech.

A student is identified as first-generation at Virginia Tech if neither parent or guardian has earned a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.

The university’s 2023 fall census reflected 6,080 first-generation students attending Virginia Tech. Just over 88 percent of last year’s first-generation students returned for a second year, an increase of 1.2 percent over fall 2022.

Virginia Tech was selected earlier this year to join cohort four of the First Scholars Network in the third phase of a four-phase model. The network is the nation’s leading higher education community of practice for sharing data, modeling innovations, and scaling impact to first-generation student support.

Tamara Cherry-Clarke, senior assistant dean for FGSS, said, “Our selection as a First Scholars institution demonstrates the university’s commitment to our first-generation student’s overall success.”

National First-Generation College Celebration Week commemorates the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965 that made key investments in colleges and universities. The occasion honors first-generation students’ contributions to their communities and marks progress in removing barriers to their success.

FGSS has cultivated partnerships with each of the university’s eight colleges and the Corps of Cadets and other Student Affairs departments to raise awareness about first-generation needs, experiences, and about available support services. These partnerships provide programming, build community, and create environments that welcome diverse ideas.

Key events for the week

Tuesday, Nov. 7
First-Gen and Transfer Initiatives Mixer: 1-3 p.m., Gilbert Place. Desserts and hot chocolate provided.

Wednesday, Nov. 8
First-Generation Student Success Tabling: 1-4 p.m., Newman Library Plaza. Learn about FGSS services, get first-gen swag, and kick off National First-Generation College Celebration Week. 

Pamplin: Paving the Way: First-Generation Panel. 5:30-6:30 p.m., 1028 Pamplin Hall. Panelists include Fortune 500 representatives, and Maverick Mitchell, Career Advisor in the Pamplin Career Services Office. Register

Thursday, Nov. 9
College of Science: Community Night for First-Generation Students. 5:30-6:30 p.m., 125 Davidson Hall. Informal dinner and networking for first-generation Science students. Register

Friday, Nov. 10
First-Gen Takeover at Breakzone: 7-10 p.m., Squires. All students are welcome for bowling, games, pizza, and more.

Tuesday, Nov. 14
Talk-O Tuesday: 6-7:30 p.m., Ambler Johnston Great Room. All students welcome to join for a meal and conversation on the First-Generation Student Experience.

Virtual Opportunities
Join the NASPA Center for First-Generation Student Success for the annual broadcast. This year’s panel of first-gen graduates, now in senior leader roles in globally prominent companies, discuss how they create opportunities for future first-gen leaders within their professional networks.

Compared on average to students with a parent or guardian who attended college, first-generation students have fewer financial resources, pursue college-level education at lower rates, and attain four-year degrees at lower rates. 

The university's dedication to improving outcomes for first-generation students reflects the Virginia Tech Advantage, an institutional commitment to reduce unmet financial need and increase support for Virginia students’ basic needs, career preparation, and transformational learning experiences.

For more information on how you can help first-generation students at Virginia Tech or to be added to the faculty, staff, and ally listserv, contact Page Fetter, assistant dean for First-Generation Student Success and GenerationOne program director, at firstgen@vt.edu.

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