First Gen Hawks provides new first-generation Hawkeyes a way to engage in activities that enhance the college experience within and beyond the classroom through experiential learning or learning by doing. 

A first-generation student is a student whose parents or guardians do not have a 4-year degree. We know that our first-generation Hawkeyes are resilient, resourceful, and accomplished. You have worked hard to get where you are today, and we are here to support your continued academic journey. We also know that first-generation students may have additional questions about the college experience. The First Gen Hawks program is designed to equip you with the tools, resources, and supports that will help you determine your goals and reach them. 


Program Components

1. Academic Coaching

Academic coaches work with students to provide regular coaching sessions focusing on helping students develop strategies and skills for academic success. Academic coaches will assist in skill development in the following areas: executive functioning, such as juggling multiple tasks and planning/prioritizing, self-advocacy for navigating their college experience, self-management for academic and career paths, and interpersonal communication skills.

2. Peer Mentoring

Peer mentors are current students who provide a unique perspective on the college transition and assist with strategies for your social and academic success. The peer mentors will help in first-year seminars and provide additional support outside of class to connect with resources, answer questions, and meet other students.

3. Events & Community

Meet other people and create a community through special events during On Iowa! week and the entire year. 

4. Fall Seminar Class

The fall semester seminar class explores experiential learning, learning by doing, through leadership and engagement, mentored campus employment, and undergraduate research and how areas may best fit your professional and personal goals and interest.

You will understand what it takes to be a great student both now and into the future!

5. Spring Experiential Learning Course

In the spring semester, students will take a one-credit hour courses that connects with the university in a meaningful way through one of three experience learning options: career design essentials, undergraduate research, or leadership & engagement

Be a leader
connect with faculty and DISCOVER research
learn valuable skills for your career

As a Hawkeye, you have the opportunity to actively engage and make a difference in our community. Students will be encouraged to participate in activities and organizations within the Office of Leadership, Service, and Civic Engagement, work with staff in the Pomerantz Career Center to explore internships and explore other opportunities to serve our community. 

At the University of Iowa, research is happening all around us. Students from every major have the opportunity to work closely with faculty as they answer complex questions about their scholarly work and make exciting new discoveries. Whether you are hoping to learn more about a specific topic within your major, gain skills needed to pursue your academic dreams or you are hoping to build connections with faculty, undergraduate research is an invaluable experience for any Hawkeye. 

Students will have the opportunity to not only secure an on-campus job and understand the connection between your learning in the classroom and on the job. Work with staff in the Pomerantz Career Center to learn valuable skills that you can apply to any career.  



6. Opportunity for On-Campus Employment

Students who work on campus, especially in their first semester, have higher GPAs, learn valuable skills that help them succeed, and make positive connections with campus faculty, staff, and other students. All FGH students will have the option to select if you would like to be placed with an on-campus job location starting in your first semester. While it is not a requirement to participate in the program, your job on campus will give you new opportunities, supportive supervisors who will help you understand the connection between your learning in the classroom and on the job, and a paycheck. You’ll also develop great professional skills through your student employment experience which will be important to future success.

What First Gen Hawks are saying about their experience:

“The academic coaching sessions have helped me to feel more acquainted with the University of Iowa. I have gained and been reminded of many skills and resources I can utilize to be the best student I can. Most importantly, I have found that I am not alone in approaching the new world of college, and I know I have many individuals I can easily reach out to for support. My years at the University of Iowa are only beginning, and I am grateful for this solid foundation to start it.” 

“Applying for the First Gen Hawks program, specifically mentored campus employment, was hands down one of the best decisions I made in my early college career - the First Gen Hawks program has definitely helped prepare me for the workplace. I’ve learned how to properly send professional emails to colleagues, create connections, build a proper resume, how to ace an interview, and proper business etiquette. All these tips are highly useful for life after college, and I feel this program gives me a leg up over others who have not had a class like this before.” 

“Being a part of the First Gen Hawk program has shown me how much the University of Iowa genuinely cares about each, and every student enrolled here. No matter where you come from, you are capable of amazing things, and you will have an abundance of support along the way!” 

“My peer mentor is always ready to help me and just wants to see me succeed academically.” 

“By using what was learned and discussed in both types of academic coaching sessions, I have been able to set myself up for success and will continue to do so in pursuing future goals and success. In understanding setting realistic goals, I have been able to successfully work towards the goals I set and have even begun setting new goals for myself on my own. Using the knowledge I gained from academic coaching, I hope to continue monitoring my progress in the future. I plan to continue using the resources provided in order to achieve goals and hope to continue succeeding in my academic career.” 


To Join?

Much Does it Cost?

Much Time Does it Take?

Students can join by logging in to their Admissions Profile on MyUI and completing the interest form for First Gen Hawks.

For questions about the program or the interest form, contact us at ui-firstgenhawks@uiowa.edu or 319.335.1497 

The support, the coaching, the guidance, the seminar course, the connections, the memories–all of this is free. 




The First Gen Hawks Experience is designed to help you succeed in your first year on campus. Every minute spent with the program will help you gain useful skills in the classroom and beyond. The amount of time spent may vary depending on the track you choose. 

However, the average participant will spend 1-hour in the classroom, 1-2 hours preparing for class completing readings or assignments, 1-hour meeting with their Peer Mentor and/or Academic Coach and 5-10 hours completing the experiential component (service, employment or research). Please know that these are estimated times and things might vary based on your own interests and the time of year. At the end of the day, we are here for YOU! 

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108 Calvin Hall