The First-Generation Student Experience
Being the first in your family to attend college can be daunting and overwhelming, but it's also a testament to you and to your family's hard work and sacrifice. With that in mind we put together this page to give you a sense of what it's like to be a first-generation to college student on campus, as well as familiarize you with some of the resources that may be helpful for you during your time at Tufts.
As you continue with your college search, we hope you’ll consider joining us for the Voices of Tufts Diversity Experiences during the fall of your senior year so you can experience the Tufts community in person. And if you'd like to reach out to an admissions officer who is also first generation to college, feel free to e-mail Derrick McCarthy-Gunter, Sayaka Smith, or Shanice Kok '16.
College Application Advice for First-Gen Students
- Recognize your unique and powerful experience. Tufts is proud to recruit first-generation students and we believe that as a first-gen student, you offer a distinct voice and valuable perspective to our community. While the college application process may be unfamiliar to you and your family, we hope you won’t underestimate the strengths you bring to this process, too, including resourcefulness, compassion, gratitude, flexibility, hopefulness, persistence, and more.
- Seek guidance from mentors and peers. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you need advice or assistance with developing your college list, brainstorming your application essays, or completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile, don’t be afraid to identify the people or organizations in your community with greater knowledge of the admissions and financial aid process. College admissions officers like us, along with the content we share on our website, can also be a source of wisdom as you’re planning for next steps.
- Allow your assumptions to be challenged. We hope you’ll remain open-minded throughout the college search process and dig a little deeper when it comes to your beliefs about the purpose of college and how colleges operate. You might have heard people question the value of studying the liberal arts or express their frustration with the rising cost of higher education, but we encourage you to do your own research and form your own opinions about what a college education can offer you. For example, Tufts is one of about eighty U.S. colleges that meets the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students and we generally do not include loans in the financial aid packages of families with incomes under $60,000. That means that attending Tufts could be just as affordable (or even more affordable) when compared to a public university in your community.
Academic and Professional Resources on Campus
The FIRST Resource Center was founded to create a community of support and to develop a network of resources for Tufts University’s first generation, low-income, and undocumented populations. FIRST welcomes any student who self identifies with the first generation college student experience. By strengthening the bonds between our community members and bridging the gap between Tufts’ resources and first gen students, FIRST aims to ensure that first-gens are empowered in, and prepared to reach their full social, professional, and academic potentials.
BEAST is a free, four-day Pre-Orientation program that focuses on the unique social and cultural experiences specific to students who may be the first in their families to attend college, and for students seeking guidance on navigating financial and academic resources at Tufts. Our goal for BEAST is to engage students with the resources available to them and the staff and students they can support. As part of this, students will need to understand the structure of Tufts, Boston, and the local community. With that in mind, some events we may partake in include: exploring Boston and the various modes of transport throughout the city, a financial workshop headed by specialized Tufts faculty, and in-depth discussion with experienced Tufts students sharing insight into their personalized journey as First-Generation / low-income.
Tufts F1RST is a student-led initiative by the First-Generation Student Council to unite and champion pride within the Tufts first-generation community. The First-Gen Council hosts meetings and programs through the academic year.
Some signature programs include:
- Workshops to support first-gen students in achieving their academic and personal goals.
- Welcome Panel during Orientation week that features sophomore, junior, and senior students who share their experiences as first-gen students at Tufts and resources they have utilized to enhance their success.
- Opportunities for community building through bonding exercises, group discussions, and biweekly hangouts with food, music, and games.
- Fall and Spring Semester Dinners, where students can share a meal and connect with the first-gen community.
- "I Am First" photo campaign, where students share what being first-gen at Tufts means to them.
The Office for Student Success and Advising (OSSA) at Tufts University aims to assist first and second year undergraduates embark on an engaging and enriching college career by supporting students' development of purpose within the intellectual community. With a particular focus on underrepresented student groups, the Office supports the transition of all students by exposing them to the range of Tufts' curricular and co-curricular opportunities, increasing students' awareness of University resources for support and engagement, and acquainting students with the relationship between personal development and academic achievement.
We offer one-on-one and group sessions in many course subjects, as well as in time management, study strategies, writing, and public speaking. Our programs help students to become more effective, independent, and collaborative learners. We build on the strengths students bring to our sessions while addressing their needs and challenges.
We will help you identify your career goals and gain the skills, resources, contacts, and tools necessary to achieve them. Whether you are deciding on a major or career, looking for an internship or job, or considering graduate school, we can help.
We are a diverse team of clinicians deeply committed to helping students navigate challenges related to mental health and well-being. We offer a range of free and confidential services to all undergraduates and to graduate students who have paid the Health Fee. Each year, approximately 25% of Tufts students seek support through our services, which include individual therapy, groups and workshops, consultations, and off-campus referrals. Among our weekly and bi-weekly groups are sessions for students impacted by undocumented status, students who identify as trans or gender non-conforming, and international students adjusting to life in the United States.
The Group of Seven – comprised of the Africana Center, Asian American Center, FIRST Resource Center, International Center, Latino Center, LGBT Center, and Women’s Center – are a resource on campus for all students interested in thinking about social identities and how they impact our lives and the world we live in. Each of the the centers provide student opportunities for events, discussion, and leadership. Students of all identities are welcome in each center.
The Office of Scholar Development was created to help students attain opportunities for independent research and sponsored scholarship. With help from the Academic Resource Center and the Scholarship Committee, we assist students in the sometimes complicated application process every step of the way, from deciding which scholarship is the right fit to revising application essays.
The research we sponsor and the students we nominate for nationally competitive awards are a way that we tell the world who we are as an institution, and a way we reaffirm Tufts’ commitment to inclusion, critical inquiry, and social justice.
We strive to create accessible curricular and co-curricular environments for students with disabilities. When barriers exist in the academic environment or program, we endeavor to create equal access through the provision and creation of reasonable individualized accommodations for all qualified students. Through collaborative campus partnerships, we advocate for an inclusive and diverse Tufts community.
The Student Employment Office (SEO) serves as an employment opportunity clearinghouse for all Tufts students on the Boston, Medford, and Grafton campuses. We locate and develop part-time and full-time Federal Work-Study and Non Work-Study positions for both on and off campus.
There are a wide range of academic, personal, and professional benefits to be gained through studying abroad. Many students find it is a truly transformative skill-building experience. Tufts University has been offering study abroad programs for five decades. You may also choose from hundreds of approved programs run by non-Tufts providers.
Tisch Library serves the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering at Tufts University. The largest of the Tufts Libraries, Tisch Library welcomes and aims to serve the entire Tufts Community as they pursue their teaching, learning and research. Our collections, staff expertise, and physical spaces are extensive.
The Tisch Library building is also the location of several other Tufts resources and offices, including the Digital Collections and Archives, University Library Technology Services, Geographic Information Systems, and several academic classrooms.
Tufts University's Center for STEM Diversity works in partnership with the School of Engineering and the School of Arts and Sciences to foster a diverse and inclusive science and engineering learning environment. We help coordinate all of the efforts in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, and serve as an umbrella organization for the various diversity programs and clubs on campus.