First in the Family: A Survival Guide for First-Generation College Students at Cal State Fullerton

Cal State Fullerton is proud of its commitment to first-generation college students. Through leveraging on-campus resources, these students get the most out of their university experience.

Cal State Fullerton is proud of its commitment to first-generation college students. Through leveraging on-campus resources, these students get the most out of their university experience.

A growing percentage of the Cal State Fullerton student body comprises first-generation college students. According to the university’s Institutional Research and Analytical Studies office, 31.5% of enrolled undergraduates in fall 2016 were first generation, up from 22.3% in fall 2005. Mihaylo College and the university offer support and mentoring to these students as they embark on their higher education journey.

Cal State Fullerton is about opportunity for all. This is reflected in the growing percentage of students who are the first in their families to go to college. Nearly a third of CSUF undergraduates in fall 2016 were the first in their families to receive any education beyond high school, while 57% of bachelor’s degree graduates were the first in their families to complete a degree at the university level according to the most recent 2013 statistics.

Mihaylo Accounting and Finance student Laura Hopkins ’17 recognizes that on-campus involvement is vital for first-generation students such as herself. She is a student leader with Pi Sigma Epsilon and works on campus at Titan Shops.

Mihaylo Accounting and Finance student Laura Hopkins ’17 recognizes that on-campus involvement is vital for first-generation students such as herself. She is a student leader with Pi Sigma Epsilon and works on campus at Titan Shops.

“When you are a first-generation student, you may not have a support network at the university level through your parents,” says Laura Hopkins ’17, an accounting and finance undergrad. “Getting involved on campus in clubs and organizations allows you to build your own network and develop skills that aren’t taught in the classroom.”

Zaira Padilla ’17 (risk management-insurance) agrees that campus resources are vital. “As a first-generation student, on-campus organizations have given me insight that my parents and peers were not able to provide,” she says. “I have found the Educational Opportunity Program, the Center for Insurance Studies and Mihaylo Career Services to be invaluable during my time here. My greatest advice for freshmen is to read their student email, because many of the resources are sent right to your inbox.”

To see how far first-generation students can advance in the Cal State Fullerton community, look no further than President Mildred García, who was the first in her family to attain a college degree. She has made improving graduation rates for first-generation students a cornerstone of her presidency.

Here is a look at some of the resources available on campus.

First Year Experience

Formerly known as Freshman Programs, First Year Experience is designed to assist incoming CSUF students with a network of veteran students, instructors, administrative staff and advisors fostering a successful university experience. Students are introduced to study aids, clubs, leadership opportunities, athletic programs and recreation available in and around campus. For more information, visit them online, stop by LH 216 or email FreshmanPrograms1@fullerton.edu.

Mihaylo Student Clubs

From leadership development to professional networking, Mihaylo’s student clubs provide the forum for a successful college experience. The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), Black Business Student Association (BBSA) and Latino Business Student Association (LBSA) are among the clubs focused on building opportunities for minority students. Want to develop yourself in a particular subset of business? Consider joining one of the college’s professional development clubs, such as the American Marketing Association (AMA) or the Behind the Scenes entertainment and tourism club. For a full listing of clubs, visit the Business Inter-Club Council website.

Dean of Students Office

Alisia Kirkwood, CSUF’s interim dean of students, and her staff are committed to ensuring that each student has the resources needed to succeed in their academic experience. From temporary emergency housing and meal assistance to advocacy based on issues ranging from financial hardship to academic disqualification, the dean and her staff are available to meet in-person or online with students. For more information, visit the dean’s website or visit TSU 243.

Diversity Initiatives and Resources Centers (DIRC)
Overseeing the centers for minority groups, the mission of DIRC is to create an inclusive and engaged campus community through workshops that help students better understand diversity and campus opportunities. DIRC sponsors a number of centers, such as the African American Resource Center, Asian Pacific American Resource Center and Chicana & Chicano Resource Center, to provide resources, programs, events and cultural awareness for our diverse campus community. For more information, visit DIRC online or at Pollak Library North 203.

Involvement in student clubs is a great way to connect on campus and make the most of your experience at Cal State Fullerton.

Involvement in student clubs is a great way to connect on campus and make the most of your experience at Cal State Fullerton.

Connect with Faculty

Many of our faculty members are available to discuss how to succeed in college and get started professionally. Connect with your professors and ask to meet with them to explore what you can do with the skills you are gaining in class and how you can build your network. Many of our faculty are also involved in professional associations for their respective fields, which makes them a valuable go-to source.

More Ways to Get Involved

Want a great start to a career, along with a work schedule and location convenient to your classes? Consider applying for on-campus student assistant jobs. Check out our earlier blog post on the various employment options available at CSUF.

Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) offers numerous opportunities for students of all majors, including the elected student government, clubs and events. Visit their website or stop by the newly renovated Titan Student Union to find out more.

Are You a First-Generation Student?

Are you the first in your family to attend university? We would love to hear your story. Tell us about the challenges and opportunities you are encountering and your goals for the future. Leave a comment on the blog or social media to let us know.

About dcoats

I'm Daniel Coats, a CSU Fullerton Communications graduate student
This entry was posted in Life at Mihaylo and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *