ToBeMe@NOVA: First Generation College Students Resources

I would like to thank all those students that shared their experience and let us get a glimpse of what it is like to be a First Time Generation College Student at NOVA. Below you will find tips and resources for students and faculty to help enhance the experience of First Time Generation College Students at NOVA.

For Students:

Be an advocate for yourself. Being the first to attend college, you may have to learn about college life on your own. Much of your success will depend on the initiative you take to get things done. You will have to seek out the information you need in many instances and be prepared to do the necessary follow through to get what you need accomplished.

Ask questions and follow through. Don’t be intimidated by what you do not know and ask questions whenever you are unsure. Learning to ask the right questions is an invaluable skill that will serve you well throughout your matriculation at NOVA and beyond and you can start practicing it now.

Use your student support services. You don’t have to stumble through college making mistakes as you go simply because you don’t know where to start. You have an entire support staff here to guide you. If you have questions about where to begin, are uncertain who to talk to about a specific matter, reach out to our NOVA Online Student Success Team at 703-764-5076 or who can point you in the right direction. If you would like to get information on campus, click here to learn the resources available at the student services center at your nearest campus.

Learn from the experiences of others. Find a mentor, friend, family member, etc. that can help coach you through what adjusting to college life is really like and give you information on what to expect. Getting the perspective of another student or former student can offer you an outlook that talking to a staff member cannot always provide.

For Faculty:

Be mindful of students balancing multiple responsibilities. Many students pay for school out of pocket and have to work full-time or part-time jobs to fund their education. It is always helpful to have instructors that understand the importance and demand of working while in school and that are flexible with students, when appropriate. Sometimes simply communicating that you acknowledge and respect their other responsibilities can be enough to help students feel more comfortable to reach out when mitigating circumstances arise.

Keep lines of communication open with students. Invite students to reach out to you with any questions they may have. You can be a great resource for your students and, often, a great referral source.

Acknowledge that this is a very diverse group of students. These students come from families that may not have college degrees but they may be entrepreneurs, career military, skilled tradesmen, or other professionals that worked their way up without a degree. So often it seems that the term “first generation” is used broad based to mean students who have lots of risks to success. There are certainly students on all parts of the spectrum and faculty and staff should try to be mindful not to make assumptions about students and get to know them as individuals. Each student comes with their own experiences that make them unique and valuable.

If you would like more resources, please reach out to the NOVA Online Success Team at 703-764-5076 or

-Jennifer, NOVA Online Student Success Coach

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