Being the first person in your family to go to college is a fantastic and exciting experience. First-generation students have shown they are resilient and dedicated. However, the university environment can be intimidating, confusing, frustrating, or uncomfortable making some feel unprepared or isolated. These struggles are common for first-generation students and U-M has lots of resources available to help you maintain your wellbeing.


Common Struggles for First-Gen Students

Every first-gen student faces a different set of challenges; some common emotional responses are included below.  

  • Anxiety about letting their family down, finances, grades or falling behind
  • Intimidation in not knowing how to navigate the collegiate environment, such as registering for classes or accessing university resources
  • Shame around feeling like they do not belong
  • Frustration around not seeing themselves represented in university staff, faculty and peers
  • Stress around transitioning between school and home life and balancing different demands
  • Discomfort in talking to their families about their higher education experience

Coping Strategies for First-Gen Students

  • Seek outside help. Talk to a CAPS counselor; campus mental health services are completely confidential and free for U-M students.
  • Find your people. Join a student organization or attend events to expand your social circle and avoid isolation. 
  • Talk it out. Discuss your difficulties in navigating U-M with your advisor. They can answer questions and offer resources to help.
  • Address academic challenges sooner than later. U-M has a variety of academic support resources for students. It can also be helpful to attend office hours to get assistance from professors or GSIs. 
  • Self-care. Take some time away from your studies to de-stress. Campus Mind Works has a comprehensive self-care section.






Get Help Now - Crisis Text Line 741-741 // Call U-M Crisis Phone Line: (734) 936-5900 or (734) 996-4747