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First-Gen Student Support

First-Gen Student Support

Virginia Tech Student Affairs is committed to the ongoing development of resources and tools that contribute to first-generation college student success.

Group of First-Gen Virginia Tech Students

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

First-Gen Peer Mentoring Program

  • First-Gen Peer Mentors are crucial to the academic, cultural, and social integration of first-generation students throughout their first and second years. Mentors are student leaders who serve as a valuable resource for first-generation students. Mentors will be available starting in the fall semester of 2020.

VT Firsts Living-Learning Community (proposed)

  • VT Firsts is a proposed living-learning community designed to support the transition from high school to college for first-generation students at Virginia Tech. The community will help students navigate their academic and social experience during their first year and beyond by connecting them with peers, peer mentors, faculty and staff, campus resources, social events, workshops, and service-learning opportunities.

First-Generation Reception during Welcome Week and Community Kickoff

  • In partnership with Virginia Tech’s Cultural and Community Centers, new and returning first-generation students are invited to attend the First-Generation Reception during Welcome Week and Community Kickoff and share experiences from their first week of classes. We encourage students to engage other students and First-Gen Allies to discuss ways to navigate challenges and set goals for the coming year.

Fall Family Weekend First-Gen Brunch

  • In partnership with New Student and Family Programs, we host a reception each fall for incoming first-generation students and their families. During this event, students and families are celebrated and families are encouraged to remain active participants in their student’s college experience.

First-Generation College Celebration Week

  • Each fall, First-Generation Student Support invites first-generation students, faculty, staff, and allies to attend First-Generation College Celebration Week. Events celebrate the presence and experiences of first-generation students.

First-Generation Support Group

  • In partnership with Cook Counseling Center, the first-generation support group creates a space for first-generation students to share their experiences and connect with one another.

First-Generation Recognition Ceremony

  • In partnership with the Cultural and Community Centers, we invite all graduating first-generation students to wear a First-Gen stole with their graduation regalia, which they will receive at the recognition ceremony the week before graduation. We invite all graduating first-generation college students and their guests to join us for this event.

First-Gen Institute

  • In partnership with the College Access Collaborative and Admissions, the First-Gen Institute is a residential, academic leadership program held during the summer for rising juniors and seniors.

TRIO Programs

1G@VT Student Organizations

Success Tips for First-Generation College Students

  • Learn college terms. Visit first-generation resources on You're in...Now What?. This site offers a great list of terminology that will be helpful for you to know. In addition, you will see a guide, designed by students, that includes a lot of information about the many resources available to you on campus.
  • Verify financial aid early. Make sure there are not additional steps you must take to ensure that your financial aid is in place by the payment deadline. Look for communications from the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid or check with the office.
  • Get involved. Introduce yourself to classmates and your instructors. Make an appointment to meet with your mentor each semester. Connect with students in your major. Join student organizations. Our student organization, First-Generation at Virginia Tech (1G@VT), meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. Sign-up on GobblerConnect to learn more!
  • Set goals. Identify goals you want to work on during your first year of college and develop an action plan to achieve them. Refer to your goals frequently to help you stay on track.
  • Connect with first-generation faculty and staff. Attend our events to introduce yourself and build relationships. Connect with first-generation faculty and staff through our VT 1stGen Allies Program. You can also connect with Hokie alumni through the Hokie Mentorship Program.
  • Go to class on time, every week! While not all professors have attendance policies, it is important that you attend class. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions about material that you don’t understand and to share your insights with your classmates. It is also important that you arrive to class on time! Don’t be late!
  • Be prepared for class. Preparation includes purchasing your books and access codes within the first week of classes, bringing what you need to class, and completing assignments on time. Make sure that you read assigned readings prior to class. Professors expect you to do assigned readings even if the material is not covered in class.
  • Check your email regularly. Professors, staff, and offices will only communicate with you through your official VT email address. Check this account daily.
  • Know your campus resources. An important part of student success is asking questions when you have them and reaching out for assistance when you need it. Virginia Tech faculty and staff are here to help you! Familiarize yourself with academic support offices – such as advising offices, the Student Success Center, our office, and Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), wellness areas, and Career and Professional Development. Stop by the offices to say hello and ask questions.


Advisory Council

  • Joy Capers – Assistant Director, Mentorship Program, Career and Professional Development
  • Jeannine Eddleton – Senior Instructor, Chemistry, College of Science
  • Samantha Harbison – Assistant Director, Assessment and Professional Development, Student Affairs
  • Byron Hughes – Dean of Students, Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs
  • Nicki Sterba – Student, Dairy Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Kimberly Smith – Associate Vice Provost for Student Success, University Academic Advising Center
  • Kimberly Tilley – Administrative Fiscal Assistant, Student Success Initiatives
  • Sarah Umbarger-Wells – Assistant Director, Virginia Tech Talent Search Program

First-Generation Student Support collaborates with departments across campus to provide programming and events throughout the academic year. The events:

  • Raise awareness about the needs and experiences of first-generation college students.
  • Connect first-generation students with one another and with faculty and staff to build community.
  • Create an environment for first-generation students that welcomes diverse ideas and cultures, promotes lifelong learning, instills values, and cultivates a strong academic identity.