This web page is meant to provide first-generation students at Wesleyan with information so as to support their success. This information includes often-used college terms and Wesleyan acronyms; information about campus resources; tips for parents; and the stories of first-generation students, alumni, faculty and staff.
  • Who is First Generation?
    While there is no universal definition that will capture all of the complexities of being a first-generation student, students are generally understood to be first-generation if their parents or legal guardians have not completed a four-year college degree. However, students whose circumstances fall outside of this description should know that they still have access to the support and resources described on this site.
  • What are some common experiences that first-generation students at Wesleyan have described?

    Some common experiences that first-generation students have experienced are:

    Excitement and Pride:  You've faced innumerable challenges and succeeded: that’s why you’re at Wesleyan!

    Anxiety: The transition to college is nerve-wracking for everyone, but for first-generation students there can be added concerns around what to expect. Feeling nervous or apprehensive is normal, but remember to reach out to others for support if you need it.

    Responsibility: Like other students on campus, you may be helping to pay for your education, working a job during the semester, filling out FAFSA forms or balancing family and educational needs. 

    Belonging: Many first-generation students feel that they don’t truly belong at college. You do belong at college and we are glad that you have chosen Wesleyan!

    Balancing: It can be challenging for students to balance their commitments on campus (courses, jobs, extracurricular involvement) with managing family needs at home, so self-care is essential.

    Major Paths: Many first-generation students feel the need to move toward more pragmatic majors, but they often find a way to balance the practical with their passions. 

    Navigation: It is important for first-generation students to learn the expectations of university life in order to get the most out of college. This is why the First Things First pre-orientation was created for incoming students. Most importantly, it is essential that you ask questions!

    Solitude: Many first-generation students experience the feeling of being unique and alone in their struggles and perspectives. It is important to remember that you are not alone! Be sure to listen to the stories of other students and how they were able to find their sense of connection and belonging.

  • Campus Resources/Sources of Important Information:

    An additional list of resources can be found at:

    Academic Regulations

    General regulations regarding degree requirements, AP/IB credits, General Education Expectations, Honors, etc. Degree requirements can be found here:

    Academic Review and Promotion:

    Requirements for good academic standing and promotion to the next semester as well as a description of academic disciplines.

    Accessibility Services

    The mission of Accessibility Services is to create an accessible and inclusive learning environment where disability is recognized as an aspect of diversity.  The office provides students with academic accommodations, but it is also mindful of universal design across the university.

    Career Center

    The Gordon Career Center works with students of all class years to translate their liberal education into a lifetime of meaningful work.

    Class Deans

    Class deans are responsible for a comprehensive program of academic advising and class management in the context of a residential liberal arts environment. This includes helping students develop educational goals and complete their graduation requirements; working with faculty to support student success in the classroom; facilitating access to academic and non-academic support services; and supporting student transitions from high school through the undergraduate years to life post-Wesleyan. It is important to reach out to your class dean with any questions or concerns, academic or otherwise.


    Graduation for the senior class features a weekend of talks and receptions, the culmination being the Commencement Ceremony, which includes speeches given by honorary degree recipients, a student speaker and the conferring of degrees. It takes place at the same time as the Class Reunions.There is an annual commencement robe rental program for students (information will be sent out to graduating seniors).

    Coat Drive

    The Usdan staff is holding a winter coat drive. This is meant to help students who cannot afford a proper winter coat or are for warmer climates where a coat is not necessary. Other winter garments are welcome; contact Michelle Myers-Brown in Usdan to donate or to receive.  

    Connections Program

    Staff and student mentors work with incoming students to support their transition to and through Wesleyan.

    Course Materials on Reserve:

    Online and print course materials are placed on reserve by the instructor at the library so students can check them out for a limited time.

    Equity & Inclusion Office

    The Office for Equity & Inclusion provides leadership and guidance to address systemic inequities for all members of the Wesleyan community. Our culture of inquiry approach to enhancing the educational living and learning experience is designed to promote a healthy, thriving campus climate and a community of excellence predicated on respect for others.

    Faculty Advisor

    Incoming students are assigned a pre-major advisor who will guide them on their course selections, academic trajectory and transition to Wesleyan. Once students declare a major, they are assigned a new advisor from within the department who helps the student to fulfill major and degree requirements and create post-Wesleyan plans. It is important to meet with your advisor regarding academic concerns. Helpful resources regarding advising include the Faculty and Student Advising Handbook and Wesvising.

    Financial Aid

    The Office of Financial Aid at Wesleyan University is committed to enabling the best qualified students to attend, regardless of the family's financial circumstances. Accordingly, Wesleyan's financial aid program awards assistance solely on the basis of financial need. 

    First Class

    First Class is Wesleyan’s first-generation and low-income student coalition that provides regular programming, workshops, and support groups for members. Contact Caroline Liu ‘18 ( or Belen Rodriguez ‘19 ( to become more involved in activities or stay in communication via the Facebook group 

    First Gen Task Force

    Students and faculty members meet regularly to discuss issues facing first-generation and low-income students, and work on policy and programming.

    First Things First Pre-Orientation

    A two-day pre-orientation for first-generation students to come to Wesleyan and learn about resources, the experiences/knowledge of older students, and come to know each other. 

    Grocery Runs

    The Transportation Department offers a free local grocery shuttle service every Sunday from 12:30pm-3:30pm. The van leaves from Usdan to Aldi and Price Chopper and returns.

    Math Workshop

    This drop-in tutoring service is open every weeknight.

    McNair Scholars Program

    Wesleyan's Ronald E. McNair Post Program assists juniors and seniors from under-represented groups in preparing for, entering and progressing successfully through undergraduate and post-graduate education.

    Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program

    The fundamental objective of MMUF is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences. 

    Office Hours/Drop-in Hours

    Faculty members and class deans usually have office hours or drop-in hours, times during which they are available for students to come speak with them. These are essential to know about and are ordinarily listed on syllabus (see below).


    Beyond attendance, it is important to actively and critically engage in discussion-based courses.

    Questbridge at Wesleyan

    QuestBridge is a national nonprofit based in Palo Alto, California that connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities with chapters across the country.

    Quest Scholar Liaison, 2016-2017: Belen Rodriguez ‘19


    Recognizing that some students may need financial support to purchase business attire to interview for jobs or internships, the SuitUP Program provides eligible students with a $200 grant for that purpose.  Current undergraduate students in good standing who are receiving need-based financial aid at the time they apply are eligible for the grant. Contact the receptionist? 


    Ordinarily provided by instructor of course on the first day of class, the syllabus often includes the course schedule, expectations, any required course materials and grading criteria.

    Teaching Assistant (TA)

    Assist the instructor by providing review sessions, may do some grading. Ordinarily undergraduate students who have done well in the course in a previous term.


    A full listing of courses for a given academic term with extensive search possibilities.

    Writing Mentor

    Mentors and mentees meet on a weekly basis on particular writing concerns (generating ideas, structuring an essay, improving grammar, etc.). This program is designed for students who enjoy regular collaboration.

    Writing tutor

    Tutors in the Workshop will meet with you in one of five campus locations.  They will read papers from courses across the curriculum and work individually with everyone from first-year students to thesis writers.  You can ask them for help at every stage of your writing process-- when you are organizing ideas, structuring a paper, or editing a draft.  Tutors also work closely with students who are learning English as a second language.

  • Tips for Parents

    Be sure to look over as it features a great deal of information for parents.

    Another good resource is the Parents Handbook: 

    The class deans also created a document that is designed to provide you with an overview of the kinds of issues that students typically face during their time at Wesleyan and provides you with sets of questions that may help you get a better sense of how your son or daughter is faring, both as a student and a member of the Wesleyan community.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch with your son or daughter’s class dean:

    Suggestions for how to support your student during their time at Wesleyan:

    • It can be important for parents to discuss the importance of attending class regularly, reading before class, taking thorough notes, completing all class assignments, and participating in study groups. 

    • Encourage your son or daughter to ASK FOR HELP. We have many resources to support students, such as the class deans, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), writing mentors and tutors, the Math workshop, peer tutors, Teaching Assistant (TA) Review Sessions, professors’ office hours and Peer Advisors, all of which are described in more detail above.
    • Parents should talk about how their student’s approach might have to change from class to class and semester to semester. For example, students might work with a writing tutor when they are required to write papers and perhaps seek out a peer tutor or attend TA review sessions when grades are based on exams.
    • Parents should stress the importance of effective time management. For example, parents can encourage their student to use a planner or calendar (either electronic or on paper), put together “to-do lists”, and keep track of due dates for assignments and tasks that need to be accomplished.
    • Parents might also want to discuss the dangers of spending too much time on outside commitments, socializing or online. All of these are important, but moderation is key given the demands of academics and, when applicable, student employment.
    • If possible, attend Family Weekend to become knowledgeable about the resources/services available to your student, since parent/family support can be key to the academic success of college students.
    • Your son or daughter may not be able to come home every weekend if they are living on campus. Even if it is only 5 or 10 miles away from home, they may not have the same amount of time to devote to family responsibilities as they did before.
    • Be patient with yourselves and one another, especially since this is a learning experience for everyone (both you and your student). You will all be learning about this transition process together!