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Welcome to VCU! You may be the first in your family to attend — and graduate — from a four-year college or university, but you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of us at VCU are or were first-generation students! You're considered a first-gen student if neither your parent nor guardian graduated with a four-year degree from an institution in the United States.

You First at VCU is here to help you get connected to other first-generation students, as well as the academic and social resources you need to help you achieve your goals.

For students

Here are some first steps to take if you’re new to VCU or simply new to learning about the resources VCU has to offer for first-gen students.

  • Jump-start your VCU education: VCU Summer Scholars is a five-week program that gives you a head start on your path to VCU, graduation and beyond. You’ll take classes, earn credits and build a group of close friends during the summer before starting your first semester in the fall. This program is by invitation only, and class size is limited.

  • Learn more about TRiO: VCU’s TRiO program offers undergraduate students support and tools for academic success. TRiO staff are committed to increasing the graduation rate for first-generation and low-income students, as well as those with disabilities through an in-depth and very hands-on advising approach. The program provides support with FAFSA completion, career workshops, enhanced academic advising, one-on-one tutoring, peer mentoring and more!

  • Meet with your advisor: Your academic advisor will work with you to be sure that your VCU education is one that helps you to achieve your academic and career goals. Visit the Academic Advising website for more information and to find your advisor.

  • Join our student org: The You First at VCU student organization gives VCU first-gen students a voice; empowers them to embrace and share their stories; and connects them to faculty staff, and other students who were or who will be the first in their family to graduate from college. Join You First at VCU through the RamsConnect portal.

For parents and families

We understand that parents and family members want to help, too. Here are some things they can do to better understand their student’s VCU experience and support them during the journey.

  • Attend Supporting Your First-Generation Student sessions: Attend sessions about how to support your first-generation student during one of VCU’s Preview Days, the on-campus special event especially for accepted students and their families. Visit the Preview Day website for more information about the event.

  • Attend Family Orientation: Family Orientation is offered to parents and family members of all new first-year and transfer students. Designed to give you an opportunity to ask questions you may not want to ask with your student sitting next to you, this program takes place during New Student Orientation and is separate from the student experience.

  • Words to know: Sometimes it seems like college has its own language. To get an understanding of the linguistics of higher education, you can check out this useful Higher Education Glossary created by U.S. News and World Report.

Famous firsts

  • John Lewis, former U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg, former associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
  • John Legend, singer-songwriter
  • Toni Morrison, author, first black woman to receive a Nobel Prize in literature
  • Tom Hanks, actor
  • Oprah (She needs no introduction.)
  • Sonia Sotomayor, first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice
  • Michelle Obama, former first lady
  • Colin Powell, first African-American Secretary of State
  • Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator
  • Howard Schultz, former CEO and chairman of Starbucks
  • Viola Davis, actress
  • Barney Frank, former U.S. Congressman and first openly gay member of Congress
  • Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States