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As a first-generation student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville you will have access to a variety of academic, personal, and professional resources.  Being successful in college can depend on how often and intentionally you use the resources available to you.  Below you will find links to a number of resources that will help you hone in on your strengths and offer you support for many of the academic, social, and personal encounters that you will experience throughout your college career.  

Currently Enrolled Students

We are extremely excited to have you in the Volunteer community. Whether you are wanting to get involved in the campus community, experiencing challenges with time management or needing help understanding course content, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has resources available to help.  Start here because your success is just one click away. Remember, you’re first but not alone!

As a new student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville you may hear words or phrases that you don’t quite understand.  In order to help you become more comfortable and familiar with university language, policies, and procedures, we have created resources that you can reference as you navigate through your university experience.  

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville offers an abundance of free resources to assist you in being successful during your matriculation at the institution.  Whether a first-time freshmen, transfer student, commuter, or returning student, the university provides resources that can help you master skills, overcome challenges, and achieve your full potential in the classroom and beyond.  Use the following pages to assist you in being successful during your journey to academic success.

We recognize that being a first-generation college student is only one part of your multiple identities and your lived experiences. Please see a list of additional campus resources that provide complimentary support.

All incoming undergraduates students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville will have the opportunity to take the CliftonStrength’s Assessment at no cost.  The assessment provides a customized strengths report and guide that aids students in understanding and honing in on their unique and innate talents to maximize their success.  Students will have opportunities to explore their strengths through any one of the following ways:

All students are highly encouraged to take the strengths assessment and use their strengths to be more intentional about their leadership, academic, and professional development during their time as a volunteer.

Prospective Students

Thank you for your interest in the First-Generation Initiative (FGI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  The programs and resources we offer are open and available to all first-generation students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  We invite you to explore our website to learn about how we support First-Gen Vols and how you can become involved in the future.  If you have any questions or need additional information about FGI, please contact us at 865-974-7900 or

Interested in applying at UT? Contact Undergraduate Admissions.

First-Gen Family Resources

If your student, sibling, or family member is the first person in your family to attend college you may have a lot of questions, and you might be feeling a lot like a student yourself.  This section is intended to help families of first-generation college students learn more about the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and ways to support first-generation students throughout their higher education journey.

  • Listen and learn about your student’s plans for college.
  • Express your support, but don’t be afraid to share your perspectives in a non-judgmental way.
  • If time and finances permit, make plans to attend orientation with your student.  This will be a great opportunity for you to learn about the campus, resources, and opportunities for your student.
  • Do your own research.  You won’t have all of the answers, but it’s a good idea to take a proactive approach to learning about the college process for both you and your student.
  • Be flexible and understanding.  Your student will be embarking on a new chapter and this will come with change.  Remember to support your student(s) and their decisions.
  • Encourage your student to develop a greater level of independence.
  • Take time to learn about financial aid, your student’s financial needs, and the different types of financial assistance available.  Here are a few places to start your search:
    • Federal Student Aid: This is the same office that offers the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which your student should file annually in order to qualify for federal financial aid.
    • One Stop Student Services: Here you will find information about funds from the federal government, the state of Tennessee, UT, and private scholarships.
  • Consider attending Family Weekend and Family Appreciation Week. This is a great opportunity to meet other families and to spend time with your student.
  • Encourage your student to access university support services and resources as needed.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. We are here to assist you and your student(s) during this transition.
  • Rest assured that your student may be first, but they are not alone.  

Stay connected with the University by getting involved with the Office of Family Engagement and joining the Tennessee Family Association. Looking for more ways to support your student, click here!

Faculty and Staff Resources

First-generation college students need support inside and outside of the classroom.  This section is designated for faculty, staff, and graduate students looking for ways of better understanding and supporting our first-generation students and connecting them with available resources and services. If you identify as a first-generation yourself, make sure to join our First-Gen Faculty and Staff Directory. This directory will be public. 

  • Be transparent in the classroom. Don’t assume that your students know how you want an assignment completed.  Be clear and explicit in your instructions and provide details and expectations on assignments.
  • Teach and reinforce study skills. 
  • Be aware of academic support resources and serve as a referral agent for your students.
  • Facilitate connections between students, campus partners, and resources.  Explain the benefits of networking and getting involved on campus.  
  • Engage students on a personal level inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Encourage your students to reach out to you if they have questions or concerns.
  • Be available to students in need of help or those seeking a mentor.  Students need someone who can be supportive and provide clarity and direction.
  • Avoid deficit thinking and assumptions that academic challenges arise from innate weaknesses rather than circumstances.
  • Be aware and conscious of using higher education jargon and acronyms.