Resources for First-Generation Students and Students with Low Income Backgrounds

According to the Center for First-Generation Student Success, more than 50% of U.S. undergraduates are considered first-generation students (meaning they come from families where neither parent completed a four-year college degree). Career exploration and planning may already being overwhelming and more so if it’s new to you and your family. You are not alone in this experience and we at the Strommen Center are here to support you.

Navigating Barriers

As a first-generation student or student from a low income background navigating career planning, you may be feeling:

  • a sense of not belonging, or isolated and alone
  • imposter syndrome, or feeling like a fraud or phony
  • unprepared or uncertain in career exploration
  • uncomfortable talking about academic, career, or financial planning
  • overwhelmed in navigating campus and career resources
  • strong financial pressure
  • unable to participate in campus events due to time constraints or other commitments
  • confused due to conflicting messages about career choices between your family and your school

While these obstacles are very real, you also have many skills you’ve already developed. In her article “Career Development of First-Generation College Students,” Lynn Wiljanen highlights some skills and talents you’ve likely already developed:

  • resiliency and persistence in pursing your goals and dreams
  • the willingness to “be first” and take risks in pursuing a career
  • a genuine, innate desire to have a better life through higher education
  • wanting to bring pride to family, school, and community in your achivements
  • a desire and ability to overcome obstacles, such as poverty, circumstance, lack of support, and institution barriers

In the Strommen Center, we want to help you identify these skills and provide resources to help you continue your growth as a person and in your career.

Resources at Augsburg for You

  • Auggie Basics: offering textbook assistance, laptop loans, transportation support, and more. Auggie Basics is a series of programs at Augsburg University dedicated to providing assistance to students in order to be successful in academic, social, and emotional areas of their lives.
  • ShareShop: created by Augsburg students for Augsburg students, the Shareshop offers a variety materials you might need. The pop-up location in the Strommen Center offers clothing, especially professional wear for interviews. These items are free for you to take and keep.
  • Grants and Scholarships: financial aid can help you navigate the variety of resources available to help fund your education here at Augsburg
  • The Strommen Center: us, of course! We’re available for major and career exploration, resume and cover letter support, and general career guidance and inquiry. Make an appointment with us on Handshake (offered both in person and virtually).

Additional Resources

First in the Family: advice about college from first-generation students

CLEO (Council on Legal Education Opportunity): an organization created to expand opportunities for underrepresented students to attend law school.

America Needs You: offers a Fellows Program that empowers low-income, first-generation college students with the tools they need to graduate college and succeed in their career

Inside Higher Ed – Career Tips for First Generation Grad Students: a piece by Helen Pho, a first-generation grad student

Video feature Michelle Obama delivering a message to first-generation college students