Ivy League Colleges and First Generation Students

This seems to be a neglected topic on here, and I was wondering:

What are the prevalence of first-generation students who attend Ivy League schools?

What are your experiences?

First Gen is becoming a thing at a lot of elites. For Yale’s Class of 2023, 17% were first gen vs 12% legacy! https://admissions.yale.edu/sites/default/files/2023classprofileweb.pdf

Hmmm…I’m not sure if that is representative of most Ivy League schools though.

The Department of Education “defines a first generation college student as a student both of whose parents did not complete a bachelor’s degree, or in the case of students who live with and are supported by only one parent, a student whose only such parent did not complete a bachelor’s degree.”

But most college “count students as first generation college students ONLY if neither parent attended college at all after high school” I agree with that definition as well.

The data on first gen by school is probably available by internet search. I also think the AO’s will provide that info if you ask.

15% of Penn’s 2023 class were first-generation students. Penn defines first-generation students as those whose parents have not completed bachelor’s degrees.


Being first generation won’t get a person into a college that he/she is not otherwise qualified to attend.

There’s no need to be rude.

I know that I won’t be attending an Ivy League college for a long time,

MODERATOR’S NOTE: Nobody was rude. Don’t conflate rudeness with frankness.

I may not be qualified at the moment considering my GPA, but I do have national awards, and I intend to maintain a every high GPA in college. I will be qualified in three years.

Being “First Gen” is in vogue and is a hook. It is another way colleges are attempting to diversify the community of their college. Being “First Gen” will, IMHO, get you a little more leeway in terms of GPA/Rigor/ECs. How much is “a little”… I guess it depends on the college and the institutional need and how you stack up against other “First Gen” kids applying. This, again IMHO, is the same as for URM. A First Gen / URM who has stellar academics is like a unicorn to AOs. They will all want that person. This is why you hear of X person who gets into every Ivy and Elite school they apply to. They are absolutely qualified and colleges want to report that they are not just admitting a homogeneous applicant pool. So, and since you did not post your quals, if you have the stellar academics and package yourself up well in the essays I think you will get many offers. If you have “less than” academics and rigor but package yourself up well in the essays then you have a “hook” but how weighty that hook is will be determined by the other “First Gens” in the applicant pool. HTH and Good Luck!

“A First Gen / URM who has stellar academics… They will all want that person. This is why you hear of X person who gets into every Ivy and Elite school they apply to. They are absolutely qualified and colleges want to report that they are not just admitting a homogeneous applicant pool.” That is so true.

Thank you for your reply, GlobalFencingMom.

Note however that the impact described above Is likely much greater on first year admissions than transfers. The number of transfers at elite schools is very low.

If you want to know my qualifications, GlobalFencingMom, I can tell you if you wish.

I went through severe extenuating circumstances during high school, earning a cumulative 3.0 GPA because of that (though I had an upward trend and took 2 APs) I attended a public high school. Aside from that though I have received many awards in piano, including a rare national award and 150 volunteer hours. I am first generation, and an underrepresented minority.

Considering that the population of 18-year-olds whose parents did not attend/graduate college (depending on which definition of “first generation” you use) is far greater than the population of 18-year-olds with at least one parent who graduated from Yale, it would seem that first generation students are still greatly underrepresented at Yale compared to Yale legacies.

Are you applying as a transfer for your junior year? I think it will be more difficult to find the number of transfer students who are 1st generation. That would be interesting to know.

^^ You can say that of pretty much any subgroup at Yale, but that wasn’t the question. The original question was the prevalence of first gen students at Ivies. For the Yale class of 2023 there are over 40% more first gen than legacies, or about or about 264 vs 186.

I don’t agree with you, @BKSquared .

@austinmshauri , thank you for your response. Myself being first generation, low income, and an underrepresented minority, it would be. (Not to sound too self involved.)

I don’t understand. Are you apply for grad school in 3 years? I don’t think first generation matters for grad school at all as, by that time, YOU will have attended and graduated from college so no point in giving an advantage because your parents couldn’t help you prepare for college. If you are thinking of transferring in 3 years, again, the schools may not think they need to give an advantage as you’ve proven you can do college level work.