Carolina firsts Supporting our first-generation students

Opening doors

Thousands of Tar Heels are the first in their families to attend college. We proudly call them "Carolina Firsts," and they are an integral part of our University, contributing to our vibrant campus community.

Through our Carolina Firsts program, these students are paired with faculty and staff advocates who were also first-generation students and connected with academic and social support programs to help them throughout their college experience.

Come find your place at Carolina.

  • Nearly 4,000undergraduate students are Carolina Firsts
  • 798students in the current first-year class are the first in their family to go to college
  • Nearly 20%of all undergraduates are first-generation college students
  • 992Carolina Firsts in the graduating class of 2019

 Carolina is a “First Forward Advisory Institution” and is committed to supporting first-generation students.

The First Forward designation from the Center for First-generation Student Success recognizes higher education institutions that are improving the experiences and advancing the outcomes of first-generation college students.

Carolina was among only nine institutions named “advisory institutions” last year and is tapped to serve in a leadership capacity for First Forward because of the University’s long-standing commitment to all first-generation students at UNC-Chapel Hill and an ability to serve as a mentor to other selected institutions.

Students in class.

It’s important for this school of all schools to remember that not everyone starts where she finishes and that the doors of opportunity are best when they swing open widely. And we live out that promise every day by welcoming students no matter where they come from and helping students go further than anyone around them has had the chance to go.

Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions

Steve Farmer

Ever since I was a kid, my parents would always tell me that they wanted something better for me and that I needed a better future than they had,” she said. “Chapel Hill was always my priority. It was always my goal.

Zulma Arroyo, a Carolina First

Zulma Arroyo

Click on a photo below to meet one of Carolina's first-generation students

Access and support

  • Close up of student hands on laptops and notepads

    Carolina Firsts

    Carolina Firsts began in 2008 with support from the Office of Undergraduate Retention and New Student & Family Programs to create a sense of community for first-generation college students at UNC-Chapel Hill.

  • Maria Duran, Leslie Adams and Jennifer Rangel

    Grad Student F1RSTS

    F1RSTS provides resources and community for first-generation graduate students.

  • A student walks past a tree with yellow leaves

    Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program

    C-STEP is a groundbreaking program that provides a pathway for high school and community college students to transfer into Carolina.

  • A woman wearing a Carolina knit cap smiles broadly at the camera with a barron brown field, mountains and a beautiful sky in the background

    Lookout Scholars

    The Lookout Scholars Program offers incoming first-generation students a rich cohort experience designed to help them become citizen leaders during their four years at Carolina.