FIRST@Smeal is a program for all first-generation college students in the Smeal College of Business. (Penn State defines first-generation college students as any student whose immediate parents or legal guardians have not completed a baccalaureate degree.) The program provides support, leadership opportunities, and a specifically assigned academic adviser.


  • Support first-gen students through the transition into college and through the rest of their time in Smeal.
  • Help first-gen students navigate the higher education system.
  • Provide a community that they can continue to build, change and influence.


  • Increase the number of first-gen students who successfully enter a Smeal major.
  • Increase the sense of belonging that first-gen students feel within Smeal.
  • Provide unique networking opportunities for first-gen students with Smeal alumni.
  • Provide events centered on improving their skills, academics, and professional lives.
  • Provide leadership opportunities through the FIRST@Smeal Leadership Team.

Get Connected

Worried about your first semester? Need some advice from students who have been in your shoes? Join us for a Q&A Zoom session where current students in the FIRST@Smeal Leadership Council will answer all of your questions and give you some tips they’ve learned along the way. We are also hosting a special session just for parents and families who would like to learn about ways they can support their first-gen student. 

Registration required. 

Sessions for students: 
Thursday, June 20, 2024, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Click the link to register. 
Wednesday, August 7, 2024, 6-7 p.m. Click the link to register. 

How to Best Support Your First-Gen Student
(session for parents/family members):
Thursday, August 8, 2024, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Click the link to register. 

For more information, please email Kelly Swigert.