3 Ways to Support your First-Generation Student

When your child becomes a college student, there are a lot of changes. Maybe they have moved out of the house for the first time, or moved out of state. This could be their first time doing their laundry on their own or sharing a room.


Regardless of what the changes look like, doing the following will help in building a relationship where your student shares their experiences openly with you.

  • Ask questions to seek understanding
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Do not interrupt the speaker
  • Listen more than you speak


I know, I know… you have supported them their entire lives! How can you support them any more? Well, I encourage you to think about supporting them differently. Think about supporting them as an adult, know that they will need to be supported as your child occasionally.

  • Remind them of why you will believe they will succeed
  • Show/Share your affection for them
  • Send them a care package with reminders from home


First generation students typically feel as though they cannot “fail”. They feel immense pressure to not only graduate, but to become a doctor, or lawyer, or continue the family business. When you are communicating with your student, remember to empathize with them. Remember that you are their parent first, and they need to know that if they are not a lawyer, they can still be successful. Your student needs you to tell them that they are not responsible for bringing your family out of poverty, they are responsible for using this opportunity to make the best life for themselves.

  • Let them know they are not disappointing you
  • Verbally recognize the pressure they are under
  • Remind them to live for themselves
  • Be flexible with your definition of success
  • Remember that they are not perfect,they are human like you


Students, are you still navigating being first-generation in college? Parents, are you trying to communicate with your first-generation student but it’s not working? Try coaching!

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