First Generation Student

First Generation Student

First Generation Students logo.

What’s a first generation student?

A First Generation student is a student whose parent(s) or guardian(s) have not attended a post-secondary institution. If your sibling(s) attended a post-secondary institution, but your parents or guardians have not, you are still considered a First Generation student.

Being the first person in your family to attend university can be exciting, motivating, and nerve-wracking. Where do you start? Who do you check in with when you have questions? Most students have these questions. We want to make your transition to university as easy as possible and help you connect with other students who are new to university, too.

Our First Generation student services are part of an integrated program, which means that most of the services on this page are available to all students. What makes our First Generation program different is that it highlights the services that our previous First Generation students found helpful during their time here and holds exclusive events to help you connect with students who share your experiences.

We asked, you answered

In April 2017, we asked 150 of our First Generation students to share their thoughts on university life. Of the 150 First Generation students who answered, 70% felt that their university experiences were different. Below is a list of common needs, based on our survey and our conversations with students:

Financial Assistance

Academic Support

Career Planning

Education Planning

Social Connections

Parental Understanding

I really enjoyed being a member of the First Gen program! All the SSL's and Tanya have been more than helpful to bring the program to it's full potential.

McMaster University First Generation Student

We’re here for you

Whether you are a First Generation student or a third generation student, we are here to support your success. Here are some of the ways we do so:

Financial Assistance

We offer financial assistance and planning through SFAS and Mac's Money Centre. We also offer subsidies for Leadership Conferences.

Monthly Updates

We provide you with monthly updates about our workshops and events to help you stay in the know. We also check-in so we can improve our services for incoming students!

First Generation VIP Group

We have an exclusive group on PebblePad to help you uncover opportunities. Those who complete three modules will receive a gift card to the Campus Store!


We hold a few First Generation student events to help you develop friendships and connections with those who share your experiences.

Career Development Advising

We offer one-on-one advising services to help you uncover career pathways, opportunities, and a plan of action. Sign-up for an appointment on OSCARplus.

Peer Mentoring

We have opportunities for you to connect with peer mentors. Our Student Success Leaders are available to talk about services they found useful and university life.

First Generation VIP Group

The First Generation VIP Group is a program that provides First Generation students with an exclusive look at our SSC programs. You can join at any point during your time at McMaster.  As a member of this group, you get:

  • Access to Peer Mentors
  • 1:1 check ins with a Career Development Advisor
  • Incentives for completing modules
  • First dibs on special event registration and socials
  • Letter of completion

Anyone who completes at least three modules will receive a Campus Store gift card.  You must meet with the Career Development Advisor two times in the academic year to develop and check in with your Career Development Action Plan.


First Generation Student Appointments

Appointments are available with the career development advisor for individual, personalized support to help get you connected to the McMaster community, learn about resources, ask questions if you are not sure where else to go. You can also create your Action Plan for your university years.

Drop-in clinics are offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. in Gilmour Hall 110. Meetings are 15 minutes and are available on a first-come basis.

Peer Mentoring Appointment

Students can meet with our Student Success Leaders to learn more about our services and gain mentorship for navigating the VIP First Generation program on PebblePad. To schedule an appointment, please contact Tanya Kett.