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Texas State University
Texas State University

The First-Generation Experience

May 27, 2020

Student facing away wearing First-Gen Proud shirt and making Texas State handsigns

first-generation student

: an individual whose parents/guardians did not complete a four-year college degree.
: an individual raised by a single parent/guardian who did not complete a four-year college degree.

— as defined by the Higher Education Act (HEA)

By Jamie Saucedo and Catherine Wood
Co-Presidents, F1rst Bobcat Proud Student Organization

We are currently in an era where we are seeing more students attending college. For some students, this may be the first time that they or their family have ever been on a university campus. These students may not know it, but they are part of a larger community that identifies as first-generation students.

Are You First-Gen?

Nationally, the Higher Education Act (HEA) defines first-generation students for us easily, but every college campus identifies their first-gen students differently. In fact, Texas State University uses the HEA definition, yet there are still many students left out of the conversation. Consider these scenarios:

  • Your parents began college but did not get their degree.
  • Your parents have an associate degree or vocational certification.
  • Your parents have a bachelor’s degree from outside of the United States.
  • Your parent completed their bachelor’s degree while you attended a university.
  • Your older sibling got their bachelor’s degree.
  • Your parents have a bachelor’s degree but they are not/were not your legal guardian.

If any of those statements apply to you, then yes, you are a first-generation student! Simply put, if you did not grow up in a household with a guardian who completed a bachelor’s degree in the United States, then you missed out on learning from their experiences and knowledge — and therefore you can identify as first-gen.

46% of TXST students identify as first-generation

Texas State offers many on-campus resources to support our first-generation student population and has been designated as a First-Gen Forward Institution.
First-Gen Forward logo with text: Center for First-Generation Student Success

Where Do You Go from Here?

With 46% of our Bobcats identifying as a first-generation student, Texas State has been designated as a First-Gen Forward Institution. In addition, Texas State has many on-campus resources that continue to support our first-gen student population.

F1rst Bobcat Proud (FBP) is the on-campus student organization for first-generation Bobcats to find a sense of community and support while at Texas State. FBP has supported Texas State’s first-gen efforts by hosting guest speakers, such as first-gen scholar Dr. Gilberto Conchas, as well as assisted the university’s First-Gen Proud initiative with on-campus events during First Gen Week.

Student Support Services (SSS) is a free program for eligible first-gen students that focuses on student success. Students in the program can receive one-on-one or group tutoring, early class registration, textbook and calculator loans just to name a few resources. SSS also has a program specific for eligible science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students.

Texas State’s Graduate College has begun offering special information sessions just for first-gen students. Once a First-Gen, Always a First-Gen is an event that provides first-gen undergraduates the opportunity to hear from graduate students, meet and speak with first-gen faculty and staff, and learn about specific first-gen resources and graduate studies at Texas State through a panel discussion and a networking reception.

We Are First-Gen!

Texas State has made large steps towards creating a more inclusive campus for our students. We are proud to be apart of the movement that shines light on our first-generation Bobcats. Moving forward we hope that more Texas State students, faculty and staff will come to understand the first-generation experience. Together we are first-gen! ✯


Jamie Saucedo is a senior at Texas State University studying Elementary Education. He currently serves as Co-President of F1rst Bobcat Proud and is a Lead Scholar for The Academy program, offered by the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion.

Catherine Wood is co-president of F1rst Bobcat Proud and a PACE Peer Mentor for University College. A born San Martian, she is a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies – Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University.