What constitutes a "first generation" graduate?

Hi, everyone!

I’m about to graduate from college, and I was wondering: what exactly constitutes a “first generation” graduate?

I’ve seen many conflicting definitions, and I would like to know if I would technically be considered “first generation” if I would be the first person on one side of my family to earn a college degree. Some people have said yes, and some people have said no. I wanted to reach out to a broader audience.


I would say no. If anyone on either side of your family has gone to college, you are not first generation.

Some colleges might have different definitions for this, but several colleges I know define the student as being “first-generation” if neither of the student’s parents has a four-year BA/BS degree.

I’m not clear about who on the one side of the family did go to college…is it a parent, aunt/uncle, cousin etc? If one of your parents has a college degree (or some would say if one of your parents attended college even if no degree was earned) then you are not considered “first generation”, a more distant relative on that side of the family attended college then you could be considered “first generation.”

The label “first generation” isn’t particularly important but your achievement is so congrats!

@happy1 Thanks for your reply. Just to clarify: one side of my entire family (parent, grandparent, cousin, uncles, aunts, etc) haven’t earned college degrees. Many people on the other side have (parent, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc).

Thanks for the congratulations!

@unicornhorn008 If one of your parents graduated from college they you would not be considered first generation – but that in no way changes/diminishes your achievement. Congrats again.