The University of Iowa has made commitments to first-generation student success for decades, as evident by long-standing TRIO programs (Upward Bound has been on campus since the 1960s and Student Support Services since the 1970s). Additionally, the first-generation student organization and the First-Generation Living Learning Community (LLC) have existed in different iterations for years and several offices and organizations, such as Student Financial Aid, the Center for Diversity and Enrichment, and the University of Iowa Student Government, have made assisting first-generation students common practice in their work. However, there has been a renewed interest on campus to better serve this population of students.

The renewed interest stems from large scale, campus-wide student success efforts put into place the past several years and, more recently, discussions around campus efforts related to the university’s reaccreditation and the institutional paradigm shift from diversity to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The university, collectively, is in a unique position to embrace change; change that challenges us to reexamine how structures and practices either facilitate or hinder first-generation student learning and educational attainment.   

What Assets Do First-Generation Students Bring to the University of Iowa?

  • Resiliency & Grit- High amounts of strength and perseverance
  • Strong support systems
  • Numerous accomplishments & successes to draw from
  • Lots of “lived experiences” to learn from and apply in various situations
  • Ability to navigate systems (once they become aware/familiar with them)
  • Diversity of group contributes to a deeper educational experience both in & outside the classroom
  • A Strong desire to create a more equitable world and give back to their communities

First-Generation Students at the University of Iowa

The following data outlines the current first-generation student narrative at the University of Iowa and illustrates some key findings that describe how first-generation students may experience campus.