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.
- 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
- 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! 🙂
What if your step parent recieved an associate’s degree?
Would you still be considered first gen?
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
I have BA from Mexico, my child qualify for first generation students?
Hello Maria! Take this super quiz and it will answer your question. 🙂
Hi, what if one parent graduated with an AA degree from a four year university?
Hello! Take this super quick quiz and it should clear up your questions. 🙂
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.
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
Did you take the quiz here: https://collegemapper.com/2020/04/quiz-am-i-a-first-gen-college-student/
This should help provide the clarity you need!
What if they did four year non-residential course, outside of US where college application is not required? International student
Hello Gayetri, Did you take the quiz? It should clarify that you are first gen.
Hi Is this a official benchmark known by colleges? The 50+% rule? If this is true I’m considered first gen…
However, most websites say your adoptive parent’s education rules out your biological parents regardless of anything. But I lived with my Biological parents longer who do not have college degrees, The only person who has a degree connected to me is my adoptive father.
Yes – this is correct! 🙂
I had a question. I have full custody and raise my 17 year old son and I did not graduate from college. He visits his mom in the summers but does not live with her. I have remarried and have been for 7 years and his stepmother did graduate from a 4 year college. Is he still a 1st Gen, as he lives with me and his step-mom ha only been around for 7 of his 17 years?
Hello! Yes your son would be considered a first gen.
My mom got a bachelor’s degree in Jordan, and my dad got an Associated degree in Jordan. Neither of these degrees can be used in the U.S., where I have lived all my life. Do I count as a first gen?
Yes – you are first gen!
I am a first gen. What are the next steps?
Hello! You can apply for first gen programs at colleges and look for first gen scholarships. DEFINITELY join the first gen group at your school, and be sure to list first gen on every college application, because it helps them to help you. 🙂
We are here for you, kiddo!
If my parents went to college in a different country than I am, am I a first-gen college student?
Hello there, Did you take the quiz? It should clarify if you are first gen.