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First-Generation College Students

First-generation college students, those whose parents did not attend or graduate from college, are one of the fastest growing groups entering college. First-generation college students are often highly motivated and eager to thrive in a college setting, but may also face new challenges and unfamiliar experiences as the first in a family to attend college. While each of our students is an individual with unique needs and history, it is important to remember the context in which they are raised and their preparation for a college education. MIAD is committed to providing resources and support staff to help first-generation students not only enter college, but also succeed academically, financially, socially and professionally.

The transition from high school to college is an exciting one. To aid first-generation students in this transition, we encourage them to take advantage of the following opportunities:

  • Get to know your Academic Advisor: Advisors are dedicated to providing mentorship, to helping with the transition to college, and guiding you in self-directed planning of your education and creative future. Read more about MIAD Academic Advising:
  • Start a dialogue with your faculty: Attend office hours and introduce yourself. If you are having difficulties in a class, ask for help. Keep in contact with your faculty. Want to get a jumpstart? Learn more about MIAD Faculty:
  • Get involved: One of the best ways to feel like part of the MIAD community is to get involved in a student organization and meet students who have similar interests. MIAD has a variety of student organizations, including Student Party, our Student Government Read more about Student Organizations/Activities:
  • Reach out: Get to know the students in your classes, participate in discussions, informal critiques and collaborative projects. Join your classmates for lunch or coffee. Participate in MIAD student activities.
  • Explore your Financial Aid options: MIAD’s Financial Aid office is here to help you at any time during the financial aid process, including helping you apply for all the aid for which you may be eligible. You can meet the friendly folks in the Financial Aid Office in Room RL10 or
  • Use the resources available at MIAD to support and enhance your education:
    • The Learning Resource Center provides tutoring in writing, research, and time management and study skill development. Read more about the Learning Resource Center offerings:
    • Career Services helps you find the best fit between your interests, major and career goals. Career Services also aids in job and internship search, on-campus employment, and developing resumes and interview skills. It is also the contact office for on-campus employment.
      Learn more about Career Services:

For a complete listing of resources at MIAD, refer to the Guide to Student Services:

Lastly, but perhaps most important, create a healthy balance in your life. Learning to balance school (homework, studio work, class time) and other commitments (family responsibilities, work, commuting to school), and finding time for oneself, can be challenging. All students new to a college experience, including first-generation students, may experience some of the following challenges:

  • Cultural conflicts between home and the college environment
  • Family responsibilities that conflict with academic responsibilities
  • Family alienation or lack of family support
  • Financial questions or difficulties
  • Difficulty understanding the culture of college: accessing resources, connecting with and communicating with faculty, managing time and meeting deadlines
  • Confusion about the expectations of being a college student
  • Difficulty recognizing the connection between your career/professional goals and academic requirements
  • Difficulty making friends or feeling connected with the MIAD community
  • Frustration with the system of higher education
  • Feeling stressed, depressed or anxious

Feeling any or many of these things? Ask us for help. It’s not uncommon for new college students to feel that they have to navigate on their own. The more often you seek help, ask questions or ask for support, the easier it will be to achieve a fulfilling college experience. Seeking help is a sign of strength and taking responsibility for your learning. Jennifer Crandall, Associate Dean of Students (, and the staff of the Learning Resource Center are great resources.