First-Generation or Non-Traditional Students


A first-generation student refers to someone who is the first member of their immediate family to attend a four-year college or university to obtain their bachelor's degree.

A non-traditional student can be defined as someone who might not have attended university immediately after highschool, someone who completed their GED instead of obtaining their high school diploma, who works full-time while attending college or who had dependants (other than a spouse).

It's is never too late to learn or travel! But, sometimes, non-traditional students might feel insecure about the differences in age abroad, or first-generation students might not realize that they can study abroad. Non-traditional students typically have more mature perspectives and greater personal experiences, so they might not feel like studying abroad is beneficial during their period of life; first-generation students might not feel like they have the means by which to be successful away from home. Luckily, the Education Abroad team is here to help with these and any other doubts by giving you the resources and support you need to be confident, prepared and excited for your adventure ahead!

We encourage you to discuss these topics with your advisers on campus and previous study abroad program participants. Additionally, we invite you to also explore the following resources and insightful stories below.

Things to Consider

Some non-traditional students might have responsibilities and obligations that other "traditional students" might not have. Therefore, we would invite you to consider the following when planning to study abroad:

  •  Do I have personal or professional responsibilities that will affect the length of time I can study abroad?
  • Will there be opportunities to connect with students and others from the host culture that I can relate to or have more in common with?
  • Can I be flexible and adapt in situations where I feel like I do not relate to others within the host culture, immediately?
  • What type of housing accommodations are important to meet my needs? Can I find a program that offers these options?
  • How will studying abroad enhance my academic, occupational, and personal goals?
  • Can you take time away from work to study abroad? What kind of preparation needs to take place if you wish to return to your job at the end of your program?
  • What financial obligations (subscriptions, monthly bills, etc.) can you plan ahead for now?
  • Will you wish to work while abroad? What steps need to be taken in order to do so, legally?
  • Can I bring my family (aka, dependents) with me while I study abroad?

Resources, Guides and Success Stories

General Resources

All Abroad: funding and study abroad advice (specifically written with first-generation students in mind)

Diversity Abroad: advice, scholarship information, student testimonials and more

The First-Generation Student's Study Abroad Guide: A Free eBook

I'm First: first-generation student bloggers share their perspective on studying abroad

Center For First-Generation Student Success: "My First-Generation Study Abroad Experience"

Must Ask Questions for Adult Students Traveling Abroad

Scholarships for Non-Traditional Students