First-Generation College Student Success Initiative at SDSU

At SDSU, you are a First-generation/first-gen college student if you are the first person in your family to attend college.

To ease what can be a challenging transition for students from communities where college-going is not the norm, our office works centrally to support first-generation college students and their specific needs.

SDSU offers an array of services and programs to meet the needs of first-gen students. Our team facilitates access to enrichment programs, as well as awareness of resources, and tools that will help first-gen students succeed, regardless of student area of study or level.

Our goals are to:
  • Assist first-gen students across the university in building community by meeting other first-gen students (undergraduate and graduate).
  • Connect first-gen students to faculty mentors and/or fac-staff first-gen advocates.
  • Utilize a strengths based mentoring approach in guiding first-gen students to engage in high impact practices (e.g. internships, service-learning, undergraduate research) and in understanding the intersection of their identities which influence their career/professional goals.

Action Work

Below summarizes the shared and collective first-gen student success equity and engagement work conducted with campus partners:

  • Implemented a Faculty/Staff First-Generation Advisory Board. First-Gen Advisory Board met September 2018, December 2018, and October 2019. The goal is to bring our campus community together once/semester to gather feedback on how to better serve our broader first-gen student community.
  • Created a First-Generation Faculty Directory and continue to identify first-gen faculty, staff and administrators across SDSU
  • Assembled a First-Generation Student Success Equity Team (analogous to Data Champions) as part of the CSU Middle Leadership Academy. Work is in progress.
  • Shifted from a Deficit to Asset-Based Lens. First-generation college students are being engaged in the National Scholarships & Fellowships process, recruited into honors societies, engaged in faculty-mentored service-learning, or undergraduate research, and recruited to participate in the Weber Honors College.
  • Held new fall semester First-Generation College Student Community Welcome Meetings. These serve as another touch point to help ease the transition of first-gen students to campus and reminding critical student success connection points with financial aid, scholarships, advising, mentorship, engagement opportunities and other critical student success resources.
  • Implemented Targeted Communications to Broader First-Generation Student Community. We gather student success resources and promote retention and success services to all First-Generation students via our First-Gen Student Newsletter.
  • Launched Campus First-Generation College Student Website. Prospective, new and continuing First gen students now have focused resources, a guidebook, and a directory on a Centralized First-Gen Success website.
  • Received national recognition for our work with first-gen students from NASPA via the First-Gen Forward designation from the Center for First-Generation Student Success. We are the first CSU to receive this designation as part of the inaugural 2019-2020 cohort.
  • Recently elevated to the national First-Gen Forward Advisory designation in 2021 from NASPA as a result of our efforts to improve First-Gen Student Success. As an advisory institution, we will guide other institutions in Southern California. We are the first CSU to receive the advisory designation.

FirstGen Forward Advisory Institution