Quiz: Am I a First Gen College Student?

By Susanna de Chenonceau, M.Ed.

Answer these simple questions to know if you are a first generation college student or not.

I receive many requests on my blog post about this topic, so I decided to create a short quiz to help all of you figure out if you are a first gen.

  1. Did you grow up in a home for more than 50% of your pre-adult life (age 18) where AT LEAST ONE parent or guardian figure (including step, adoptive, or grandparents) who RAISED you and influenced you HAD GRADUATED from an accredited, residential four year university anywhere in the world, and received a Bachelor’s degree BEFORE you left that home? (ie–were you directly raised by anybody who HAD graduated from a four year college?)

If you answered YES to this question, you are NOT a first gen.

If you answered NO, you ARE a first gen.

If it’s still not clear, take this quiz:

Please answer these questions about the parental figures who raised and influenced you for more than 50% of your life before you turned 18. These people could be parents, step-parents, grandparents, relatives, guardians, or adoptive parents. Now, thinking about these people, did these parental figures:

  • Graduate from a FOUR YEAR college?
  • Graduate from a four year college BEFORE you turned 18?
  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?
  • Earn a Bachelors Degree BEFORE you turned 18?
  • Earn that BA degree in person, NOT online?
  • Earn that degree from an accredited institution?
  • Live at the college they graduated from, or very near to it?
  • Attend four years of college and then graduate in the US?
  • Attend four years of college and then graduate in any country?
  • Have a diploma from an accredited college or university?
  • Share with you any guidance about what it was like to attend four year college?

If you answered YES to ANY of these questions, you are NOT a first gen.

If you answered NO to ALL of these questions, you ARE a first gen.

Being a first gen means that your “parental figures” had NOT graduated from a college that was:

  • A FOUR YEAR college
  • Residential (they lived there, or near it)
  • Not an online program
  • Anywhere in the world
  • Accredited
  • Degree/diploma granting

Being a first gen means your “parental figures”:

  • Raised you more than 50% of the time before you turned 18
  • Lived in your house and influenced you
  • Could be guardians, step-parents, grandparents, relatives, or adoptive parents or ANYONE who raised you
  • Did NOT graduate college before you turned 18
  • May have started college or attended some college, but they did NOT graduate

That makes you a first gen.

If you are a first gen, you and your siblings will be pioneers, the first ones to navigate and understand university. You will be first gens together.

Being a first gen is based on who raised you, not on who your biological parents are or what your biological parents ever did or did not do in their lives.

A first gen is someone who DID NOT have parental or guardian figures ABLE to advise them about how to attend and navigate college because those parental or guardian figures had never done it.

A FIRST GEN COLLEGE STUDENT IS A PIONEER, DOING SOMETHING THAT NONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO RAISED THEM HAD EVER DONE.

Being a first gen means you had no guidance to help YOU navigate college. If your parental figures went to college when you did or after you did, you are STILL a first gen.

I hope this helps to make this clear. There seems to be a lot of confusion about this topic.

Please do not post a comment here if you just want someone to tell you whether you are a first gen or not.

Take the little quiz at the top and THEN if there is still confusion, please let me know and I will try to edit it to make it even more clear. Thank you! 🙂

~Susanna

Comments

  1. What if your step parent recieved an associate’s degree?
    Would you still be considered first gen?

    1. Author

      Hello, I believe the quiz states that a four year degree is the defining characteristic. Can you let me know where this is unclear. Thanks so much! Susanna

  2. Hi, what if one parent graduated with an AA degree from a four year university?

  3. Hi. I’m curious why you exclude online degree programs? If someone earns their bachelors degree from an accredited university’s online program, why would their children be first-gen? Many students now are non-traditional, still they meet all qualifications to earn their degree even if it is not on-campus.
    Thanks,
    Felicia

    1. Author

      Hi Felicia! First gens do not have parents who can help them navigate university life, and typically we define that as “residential”–living in the dorms, etc. However, as more programs move online these days, I expect this definition will change, even if only to broaden. Hope this helps, Susanna

  4. Neither of my parents went/graduated from college, although my mother went into the military before attending a trade school and receiving a bachelor’s degree. Would the trade school be considered “college?” Will I be able to apply for first generation scholarships?

    1. Hi Kay,

      Thanks for the question and for being patient with us. Yes, you would absolutely be considered a first gen and you should be able to apply for scholarships. Remember – if your parents went to community college ONLY, or a technical school, or to a NON four year school in another country, you are still a first-gen.

      Take care,
      Evita

  5. I have read through your posts, very helpful!

    One question I have left is this: Am I considered a first generation student if I am obtaining an AA from a community college?

    1. Hi Krystal,

      So sorry for the tardy reply. Yes, if you are the first person who will attend and graduate from a 4 year college or university, then you are a First Gen. Be sure to list your parents’ education levels on your applications, wherever it is requested, and be precise.

      Take care!

  6. My mom earned her bachelor’s degree online when I was almost 18, in the middle of college app season. She’s never done in-person university, so I’m the first person in my family to go through the on-campus 4-year experience. I recognize that first gen scholarships are now off the table, but Is it still valid for me to call myself a first gen student for purposes of seeking guidance at my school this fall?

    1. Hi there,
      You are definitely a first gen. This article may provide additional insight for you as well. Did you take the quiz? We’d love to know how we can help make it clearer to students about their first gen status! Please do let us know if you have any suggestions! 🙂

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