Being the first in your family to attend college can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. In an open letter about their own experiences, Kenyon professors show that you don't have to face your challenges alone. Learn about the resources Kenyon offers to first-generation college students.

Defining First Generation

While there are a number of various definitions for first-generation college students, Kenyon uses the federal definition from the Higher Education Act of 1965.

In short, we recognize a student as first generation if either of the following are true: 1) neither of the student’s parents have a four-year college degree or 2) the student only receives support from one parent, who does not have a four-year college degree.

Annual Events

At Kenyon, we recognize the importance of being a first-generation college student throughout a student’s academic career. Below, you can explore some of our major events, which are designed both to support the needs and recognize the accomplishments of our first-generation students.

First Steps Connection Dinner

This dinner brings together first generation, first-year students and faculty/staff who identify as first generation or who have experience supporting first-generation students. At this dinner, there is also a moderated panel of a first generation Kenyon student, faculty member, and staff person, so that our incoming students can learn from their experiences.

ODEI Recognition Ceremony

Each academic year, we recognize the accomplishments of our students of color, LGBTQ+ students, first-generation students and others at our annual recognition ceremony. At this event, we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating students.

Additional events of interest to first-generation college students also occur throughout the year. To stay up to date with these events, please refer to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s event calendar.

Resources for students

At Kenyon, we recognize the importance of resources for our first-generation students, and we have collected information on internal and external resources in the sections below. Explore these resources or stop into the office to chat about how we can support your success on campus.

Internal Resources

Below, you can explore resources that are specific to first-generation students at Kenyon.

Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program (KEEP): KEEP is a selective program aimed at underrepresented students of color and first generation college students. KEEP introduces first-year students to Kenyon before Orientation by offering them an intensive academic experience in the summer and connecting them with supportive peers and mentors. Stipends are provided.

Recognizing Each Other's Ability to Conquer the Hill (REACH): Consistent with the best practices in the area of underrepresented peer mentoring programs, REACH recognizes the need to assist first-year and second-year underrepresented and first generation students in adjusting academically, emotionally and socially to Kenyon. 

Registered Student Organizations: A new student organization is form, which will be aimed at supporting the needs of first generation and/or lower income students on campus. More information about this new organization will be provided as it becomes available.

Support Funds: Kenyon offers a number of support funds, including academic support funds and more general student support funds, aimed at creating an equitable opportunity to succeed in multiple areas of academic and social life.

External Resources

College Now: This Ohio-based non-profit organization provides support services, such as mentorship opportunities, community-based programs, and scholarship opportunities to first generation college students.

First Generation Foundation: This Ohio-based non-profit organization provides a variety of practical resources both internal and external to their organization.

First Scholars: This organization offers resources and support to improve the graduation rate of first generation college students and prepare each scholar for a life with self-awareness, success, and significance.

I’m First: This organization offers peer to peer online support, while also showcasing the positive experiences of first generation college students across the country.

Resources for faculty and staff

To ensure a more equitable experience in college, faculty and staff are encouraged to familiarize themselves with resources to better support our first generation college students. Below, you can explore a variety of resources aimed at ensuring the needs of first generation students are met on our campus.

Tips on Supporting First Generation Students: Each of these recent articles by Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education provides useful information to consider how faculty and staff can better support their first generation students.

Center for First-Generation Student Success: NASPA and the Suder Foundation also have a robust set of resources available to faculty and staff, and such resources come in the form of webinars, conferences, research, and other programs/services. Learn more about the center.