Welcome to the FIRST Program at Clemson University

First Generation students at Clemson University.

A FIRST-Rate Experience

College is an experience characterized by change and challenges. A strong support system can make a difference in whether or not a student excels. The FIRST Program helps ensure success for students who are the first in their family to attend college. First-generation college students are individuals whose parents do not hold a degree from a four-year college or university. Clemson is proud of its first generation students and is committed to their success.


FIRST helps these students adjust to the college experience by offering a variety of opportunities and resources, from academic support to social activities. New freshman and transfer students are invited to apply and use the resources and opportunities FIRST provides. FIRST participation continues throughout a student’s time at Clemson.

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Clemson student Robert Locke — a first-generation college student — knows the challenges that can come with being first at Clemson University Clemson South Carolina

Feature Story: Being First — Facing the challenges of being a first-generation college student.
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FIRST Facts:

  • In the 2017 freshman class, 474 students reported that they are first generation college students, comprising 12.8% of the freshman class.
  • There are currently 2,313 first generation undergraduate student on campus, which is 11.9% of the total undergraduate student body.
  • There are 461 students on campus who are members of FIRST.
  • More than 1,532 FIRST students have graduated from Clemson and 98 of these students have received Clemson University graduate degrees.

Students in the FIRST Program were retained at a higher rate then those that are not in the program. Retention rates are the persistence of first year to second year at Clemson.