First-Generation College Students & Student Employment

Partnership and Project Summary

In the U.S., 56 percent of undergraduates are first-generation students, meaning neither parent possesses a bachelor’s degree. Of first-generation students, sixty-six percent are employed in a part-time job, internship, or work-study position while in college and they work almost twice as many hours per week than their continuing generation peers (20 hours vs. 12 hours). In their freshman year, only 16 percent of first-generation students utilized their campus career services resources.

NSEA is excited to be partnering with Matt Newlin, an independent consultant and researcher to establish professional development resources that better understand how first-generation students navigate the campus employment and career services experiences in college. This will include:  

  • Research reports examining first-generation student needs in relation to student employment, including gaps in service and best practices
  • A free webinar series for NSEA members exploring first-generation student identities and challenges
  • A national professional network of NSEA members who identify as first-generation students themselves to build community among colleagues

We are looking forward to engaging with those across NSEA to be a part of focus groups as well as interviews to help us learn more about how institutions are providing support for first-generation student employees. To be a part of this initial phase of the research project, please complete this quick interest form.

Learn more About Matt NewlinMatt Newlin Picture

Matt Newlin, Ed.D., is a higher education consultant with over 15 years of experience working in financial aid, enrollment management, and college access to expand opportunities for underrepresented students. As a consultant, he works with colleges, universities, and organizations across the country to improve postsecondary equity for first-generation and low-income students. He has worked at both public and private institutions helping students find on-campus employment and preparing for life after college. You can learn more about him and his professional accomplishments on

Project Updates

Supporting First-Generation Students: Institutional Best Practices and Resources - This resource guide is intended to provide student employment professionals a starting point to explore first-generation student support programs from various institutional types. You will also find examples of alumni networks and ways to build first-generation students’ frameworks of support on campus.

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