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First-Generation Students

If you are the first person in your family to attend college, you are what is commonly known as a first-generation college student. At Saint Louis University, we call you a First Billiken.

Nearly 15 percent of undergraduate students at SLU are First Billikens. There are many services and programs available to help you find your way and be successful.

If no one in your immediate family has attended college, it’s normal to wonder what the experience is like and to worry that there is no one you can ask for advice. SLU’s staff and faculty are here to help you navigate your time here, particularly your first year.

Being the first in your family to attend college is a proud moment, and we are here to celebrate with you and support you as you discover college life for the first time.

Tips from Current SLU First Billikens

What can you do to make the most of your time at SLU as a First Billiken? See what current First Billikens recommend. 

  • Attend Fall Welcome: Fall Welcome events help connect you to the SLU community from the first day.
  • Get involved: Try and find at least two to three organizations to join in the fall semester. Try something you’ve never done before. By getting involved, you’ll start to develop your support system on campus.
  • Use campus resources: Take advantage of all the programs and services available to assist you, including the Student Success Center, TRIO Support Services, Campus Ministry and your fellow first-generation college students.
  • Find and maintain balance: Balance, organization and time management will be key to your success. Remember the hard work that got you here will also help keep you here.
  • Ask your family for support: Provide your family members with an idea of what college is like. Share your daily activities with them, and tell them how they can best support you.

First-Generation College Students FAQ

What is a first-generation college student?

Officially, a first-generation college student is defined as a student whose parent/s or legal guardians have not completed a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.

Am I the only first generation college student at SLU?

Nearly 15 percent of undergraduate students at SLU are first-generation college students. You are not alone!

Are there support programs specifically for me?

SLU makes a special effort to support first-generation college students. Some students participate in TRIO programs, such as the Student Support Services program and the McNair Scholars Program.

What other resources are available to help me succeed at SLU?

SLU’s Student Success Center is your one-stop-shop for resources and services that will help you be successful at SLU, including coaches who are trained staff members who help you transition into and through your academic college experience. University Counseling Center is a great resource for students for one-on-one or group counseling. Wellness is important part of a student's transition to college and utilizing resources such as counseling or Campus Recreation can assist with managing stress.

What makes a successful SLU student?

Successful students seek out and use the many resources available to support their path toward graduation at SLU. They also find healthy ways to manage their time and money and to maintain their health and motivation for staying in school.

What do I do when I am not taking classes?

Research has estimated that college students spend only about 20 percent of their time in the classroom. Much of your out-of-classroom time will be spent studying and working on course material, but you should also make time to get involved on campus. SLU students participate in clubs, organize sporting events and serve the community. Stop by the Student Involvement Center in Busch Student Center suite 319, where any of the staff members can talk to you about your interest and suggest activities and organizations on campus that may interest you.

How do I approach professors if I need help?

Instructors typically have office hours outside of the regular class time where you can receive individual feedback about your progress, performance or an assignment. You can also make an appointment if office hours are not at a mutually convenient time.

SLU faculty pride themselves on their approachability and care for the whole student. Never be afraid to talk to a University faculty or staff member if you ever need help.