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A family first

Being a first-generation student at USC

A woman in a garnet shirt poses with the Cocky statue.

Happy November!

In addition to the start of the holiday season and sweater weather (finally), November hosts National First-Generation Day, recognizing college students whose parents did not complete a four-year degree.

Why it matters: Nationally, about one-third of undergraduate students identify as being first-gen, and here at the University of South Carolina, that figure is 21%.  

My story: As a first-gen student, I have found motivation in wanting to do more and make my parents proud. Coming to USC was an unexpected choice for me, since I am from Georgia. But I love our campus and all the opportunities and resources for success. Columbia and the university have truly become my home away from home through the friends I have made and the support system I have found in the South Carolina Honors College and my extracurricular activities. 

Find resources: USC has several initiatives for first-gen students. 

  • I have been part of the Honors First-Gen Committee, which founded the idea of a peer mentor program specifically for first-gen Honors students.  
  • This week, the university will celebrate us with a series of events, including free headshots on the Horseshoe, a breakfast with university leaders, a “speed friending” event (cannot wait to see how that works) and a celebration on Davis Field. 
  • USC has been named a First Forward Institution by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrations. This is a recognition program that is a resource for evidence-based practices, professional development, and creating information for the advancement of first-generation students and their success.  
  • The university is in the process of opening a first-gen center on campus, and a faculty living-learning community is planned for Maxcy College for the 2024-25 school year. 

It’s just a few of the many ways USC works to improve our student experience, not only for first-gen students but for all of us.  

Learn more about first-generation resources and events and meet more of USC's first-generation students.