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Center for Student Success

First-Generation Students

Carthage offers a strong support system for first-generation college students. Nearly a quarter of our undergraduate students are the first in their family to attend college.

First-generation students at Carthage

First-gen students often don’t have access to the same information and support as students whose parents have earned bachelor’s degrees, so Carthage provides resources to help them navigate college and connect with other students, faculty, and staff. 

No one first-gen student has the same story. While they may all fall into the same definition of “first-generation” their experiences and the diversity of their identities make each of them unique.

Michael Motyka '21

Michael Motyka ’21

“Carthage did a great job with my transition into college. They had so many resources available to students throughout our first year, especially the first couple of weeks. Taking part in the First in the Family program, College Success Seminar, and attending different on-campus fairs and events really helped get important information out to first-year students.”

Daniella Avilez '21

Daniela Avilez ’21

“My advice to prospective first gens is to not give up. Being the first in your family to attend college can be terrifying and intimidating, especially when you don’t know what to expect, but don’t let that fear get the best of you. You’ve gotten this far — you have the potential to go even further and do great. Make connections with other students, talk to your professors, and find someone you trust to talk to. Starting college and finishing college will be among your best achievements.”

Esteban Machado '22

Esteban machado ’22

“Carthage’s First in the Family program helped so much when it came to transitioning to college life. I was afraid of starting college because it was going to be a whole new chapter in my life, and no one in my household could give me advice. During FIF pre-orientation, Carthage staff talked to the first-gen students about the many resources Carthage offers for free. While talking to the Carthage staff, I realized that they are here because they want us to succeed, even after we graduate. FIF gave me a boost of confidence and encouragement to succeed at Carthage.”


Resources for first-generation students

First in the family pre-orientation program

The First in the Family pre-orientation program invites incoming first-generation students to spend two and a half days before New Student Orientation becoming familiar with campus and learning important information to help navigate the college experience. The FIF program helps first-gen students feel confident in their ability to be successful, through knowing how, when, and where to ask for help. Learn more about the First in the Family program.

First-Time Freshman college success seminar

The College Success Seminar curriculum for first-time freshmen consists of one class a week for seven weeks (see your schedule for details), with your first-year advisor as the instructor.
Learn more about the First-Time Freshman College Success Seminar

1g student organization

1G is a student-led organization dedicated to developing a sense of community among first-generation students while providing a space to connect with and support each other. 
Learn more about 1G


Anna Thompson“Have confidence that you deserve to be here and are capable of achieving your academic, social, and personal goals while you’re in college. Be proud of your first-gen identity!”

Anna Thompson
Student Success Advisor 

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …