Path breaker. Trail blazer. Risk taker.

What does it mean to be a first-generation college student?

First-generation college students are some of the first in their family to earn a four-year degree. Calvin considers students whose parents do not have a bachelor’s degree to be first-gen. First-gen students come from all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. Whether you're a current or prospective student, we're committed to supporting you.

First-gen students are:

  • Independent, deciding the next steps
  • Resourceful, making connections
  • Engaged, learning to the fullest
  • Trailblazers, the first to head to college

Celebration First-Gen 2021 Highlights


  • Admissions representatives help from the start to finish of the application process.
    • Apply to become a Perkins Fellow and join a cohort community focused on issues of justice, servant leadership, and racial reconciliation; preference is given to first-gen students.
  • Financial Aid can answer your questions about applying for scholarships and accepting loans. Incoming students: You can file your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as early as October 1 for the following academic year. Michigan resident students need to file a FAFSA by March 1, prior to each academic year, to be eligible for state grants.
    • First-gen students also receive a $2000 scholarship for up to 5 undergraduate years.
  • Apply to be part of the TRIO Student Support Services program, which provides individualized advising, academic support, resources for success, travel opportunities, and more.
  • The Center for Student Success can help with registration and succeeding in class. To get started, check out this First-Year Guide for tips on preparing for orientation and registration as well as connecting with your advisor.
  • For dorm life, your Resident Assistant and Resident Director are your go-to people.
Find your resources. Find your people. And I don’t mean find your friends—it takes a long time to find your really good friends who will stick with you—I'm talking about people who support you and want to see you succeed.... I found them.” First-generation student, Class of 2023


The most important thing you can do is ask. Our most successful students reach out early to the support systems around them, and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. We want you to succeed. Please feel free to contact Julia, a specialist focused on first-generation college students.

Jay Brown

TRIO Supervisor
Full profile

Special thanks to students from the January 2020 Trail Blazing DCM course for contributing much of the content and feedback on this page.