First Generation Students @ DSU

Definition: Neither parent has earned a bachelors degree from a college or university.

About our 1st Generation Students

Many Dixie State University students are the first in their family to attend college. These students are the Trailblazers of education in their families and have enormous potential to change not only their own lives, but those of families and their communities.

Based on an informal survey, over one hundred DSU faculty and staff were themselves first-generation students. They know how challenging college can be without parents who understand the language and culture of higher education, but they have also seen the rewards that come from persistence to earn a degree.  Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees as well.

First-generation students make up a greater-than-average percentage of the DSU student population. On their application for admission, students are asked if either of their parents completed a 4 year college degree. If they answer no, they are considered a first-generation student. This group makes up 53% of the student body, as compared to the national average of 32%.

Despite DSU’s large number of first-generation students, many of these students struggle with feelings of isolation and inadequacy. They are less likely than those advised by college-savvy parents to seek help from professors or campus resources, and they may have trouble feeling that they belong in college or even deserve to be there.

In spite of these challenges, many first generation students are determined and persistent. They are more likely than their peers to see earning a degree as a way to bring honor to their families.  A large number also indicate a desire to use their education to help their communities. However, they are also more at risk for failure – nationally, only 40% of first-generation students earn a degree of any kind within 6 years, compared to 55% of those with a college-educated parent. This is where DSU instructors can make a difference.

“Small efforts on the part of faculty can make a huge difference for these students – one conversation, a little extra attention, advice in solving a problem, even just knowing that someone knows your name can be the encouragement that these students need to stay the course,” says Provost Lacourse, himself a first-generation student.

First Generation Publications