/ Student Development

First-Generation Students

I'm first.

I'm First logoYou are exceptional, not an exception.

Being first gen means that your parents or legal guardians did not complete a bachelor’s degree, and this describes 15% of all Hope College students. It also means that you are particularly well suited to succeed at Hope College. Among other things, first-gen students often:

  • Are proud to be in college
  • Are independent
  • Have family members who taught them the value of hard work
  • Are resilient
  • Have an ability to “figure things out”
  • Are focused and goal-oriented
  • Are adept at problem solving

“You’re like us. You’re the first in your family to go to college. You’re a trailblazer, stepping into new territory. There can be a lot of pressure and a lot of unknowns about being first. We’ve been there, and we know it’s not easy. But we’ve also come out the other side, and we know you can do it too. We’re here to help.”

A First-Generation Student Union

Hope College's first-generation student union, 1GenHope, is a gathering place for new and returning first-gen Hope students. This is a place where faculty and staff at Hope who were also first gen come to hang out. It’s not a physical building, but an anchor point for the first-generation student. We meet twice a month to eat, catch up and talk about our semesters.

We hope that you’ll join us on this journey. We are proud to be first gen, and you should be too.

“It’s really neat that over 100 of the 800 employees here at Hope were also first gen. It reminds me that I’m not alone. That there are other stories like mine.”


“Sometimes I still feel guilty leaving my family back at home. They relied on me so much. I know they want me here, but I have to listen to my friends and mentors when they tell me that my being at Hope will benefit my family in the long run. I am caring for them by getting an education.”