Support for First-Generation College Students

Did you know that more than 80% of the students attending GHC are either first-generation or low-income students?

What is a First-Generation College Student?

A first-generation college student is one who has parents who have not completed a four-year degree. But there is a bit more than that. If your parents took a few classes and did not complete a four-year degree, you are one of us. If your parents went to college and completed a two-year degree (most of the degrees from GHC), we still count you as first-generation. If you are in a single-parent household, and your other parent who does not live with you has a degree, we will still consider you as a first-generation student. Also, if your parents completed a degree after you turned 18, we will consider you a first-generation student.

The idea is that if you did not have a parent guiding you towards college beginning when you were young, you are probably one of us.

Are You A First-generation Student?

Why is that Important?

Going to college and being successful requires many, many steps. Parents who have completed a four-year degree can guide their family members through those steps. When first-generation students get started, they do not know what it is that they need to know to succeed.

GHC knows being a first-generation (or low-income) student makes college a lot tougher.

The college has developed programs to support these students and help them to be successful Here is a list of programs that have made specific efforts for first-generation students.

Grays Harbor College has three TRIO projects including:

TRIO logo

We have also put together a number of links to help guide your way.

Tips for First-Generation Students

  • Connect with as many campus groups as possible. Find a student community that meets your needs and with whom you feel comfortable. If you establish a network of friends on campus, there's no need to go home every weekend.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Most campuses have excellent student support services that can provide tutorial, emotional and social services. You're not the first person to experience the anxiety of being at college. Others can and will help you.
  • Get to know your professors. Most educators enjoy talking to students who are eager to learn. That's why they became teachers in the first place. Show up to their office hours and engage them.
  • Remain close to your financial aid officer. Make sure he or she has a good understanding of your situation. Be your own best advocate.
  • Recognize there will be many ups and downs. College is hard, but the difficult times often pass quickly. Stick with it through graduation. Quitting is often the worst possible solution to any problem you may encounter.

Famous First-generation College Students

Viola Davis
Academy Award Nominated Actress

Colin Powell
65th US Secretary of State

Tennessee Williams
Award-winning playwright

Sonia Sotomayor
Supreme Court Justice

Howard Schultz
CEO of Starbucks

Michelle Obama
44th First Lady of the United States

Michael Blecker
Executive Director, Swords to Plowshares

Tom Bradley
Former mayor of Los Angeles

Gerald Ford
38th President of the United States

Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court Justice

Kenny Troutt
Founder and Executive Director of Excel Communications

Oprah Winfrey
Celebrated talk show host, television network owner, actress, producer and philanthropist

Barney Franks
Former US Congressman

Brian Greene
Theoretical Physicist and Mathematician

Ursula Burns
First African American woman to head a Fortune 500 company

Bill Clinton
42nd President of the United States

Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice

Brian Greene
Theoretical Physicist and Mathematician

Samuel Jackson
Actor and film producer

Ruth Simmons
First African American women to head a major college or university – Former President of Smith College, Former President of Brown University

Ken Langone
Investor and Home Depot Co-Founder

John Lewis
Georgia congressman and Civil Rights hero

Thurgood Marshall
First African American Supreme Court Justice

Viet Nguyen
Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Richard Nixon
37th President of the United States

Laurie Richer
Medical Director of Univ. California San Francisco Trauma Recovery Ctr

J.D. Vance
Author, U.S. Senator

Margaret Thatcher
Known as “the Iron Lady” – Britain’s first female Prime Minister

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Director, Writer, Filmmaker, Historian, and Critic. Harvard professor

Dr. Ben Carson
Neurosurgeon and first physician to successfully separate conjoined twins