Reinhardt University Celebrates First-Generation Students

On Nov. 8, Reinhardt University joins colleges and universities across the state and across the country in the National First-Generation College Celebration. This is a day to celebrate the successes of students who are the first in their families to pursue a college degree.

“First-generation students have long comprised a significant segment of Reinhardt University’s student population, and we are extremely proud of that,” said Walter May, Ph.D., dean of students. In fact, approximately 30% of Reinhardt’s student population is considered first-generation.

Research shows that many first-generation students face obstacles others don’t simply because the college experience is new to the whole family – from applying to schools and seeking financial aid to the transition to college life from high school and networking for jobs after graduation. “We recognize the unique challenges many of our first-generation students face. For some of our first-generation students, the challenges can be enormous; however, we have found that these students have so much in common, namely their resiliency, deep thirst for knowledge, and their resolve to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

Many higher education institutions, such as Reinhardt, have special programs and resources just for these students and their families.  “Since its inception in 1883, this institution has provided a supportive learning environment for those who are often the first in their families to attend college,” said May. Current supportive programs include Reinhardt’s Flight Ready Clearance Process to help ensure each student has completed all necessary University business prior to the beginning of each academic term, the First Year Seminar (FYS) class which helps freshmen acclimate to college, and numerous online resources for students and their families.

Five years ago, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the Center for First-Generation Student Success launched the annual National First-Generation College Celebration. Nov. 8 was chosen as the date for this celebration as it marks the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act in 1965. The Higher Education Act of 1965 made it possible for more people to attain college degrees by increasing educational resources of colleges and universities and providing financial aid to students.

Reinhardt University congratulates and celebrates the success of all its first-generation students. A reception will be held on campus, Monday, Nov. 8, in their honor. “We celebrate our first-generation RU Eagles each day and seek to create a supportive and welcoming environment to ensure their success in the classroom and beyond.”

Learn more about First-Generation resources at Reinhardt at