Supporting & Celebrating Your First-Generation College Student

JMU defines “first-generation” as a student whose parent(s) or guardian(s) did not graduate from a four-year institution. However, the Reddix Center welcomes any student with limited prior exposure to or knowledge of the college experience. Currently, about 12% of the JMU undergraduate population is considered first-generation.

Supporting Your Student
As a college student, one of the top factors in student success and progression toward their degree is the motivation and support of their family. With your ongoing encouragement and pride, they will soon be walking across that graduation stage. 

When students need support and they are not sure where to go, they often reach out to their family first. The Office of Family Engagement is here to help you become a knowledgeable resource about navigating JMU and the college experience. Reach out anytime! | 540-568-3190 or 1-866-399-8432 (toll free)

The Office of Family Engagement is available year-round to answer questions, provide information, and help you give the best possible support to your student. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Enhance your knowledge of JMU's resources!

Talk with your student about the college experience.

  • Express your support and encouragement to your student frequently. Motivation from family members is often cited by students as one of the more important factors in their persistence day-to-day. Show your Duke how confident you are they can be successful -- even when things get really difficult, which they will. College is hard!
  • Be honest with your student about your feelings and perspectives. An open dialogue is key for a successful family-student partnership.
  • Have a conversation around college finances and be open about any financial contributions you may be able to make toward paying for college. Your student will be better positioned to prepare to pay for college if they have a realistic picture with all the accurate information.
  • Discuss your expectations of your student's contributions to life at home. Between balancing classes and engaging in student life, your Duke may have less time for family activities. When possible, try to be flexible and encourage them to prioritize college success.
  • Many first-generation students often feel guilty about being away from home. Encourage them to be excited about being here. Remind them of the value of a college education and what it means to you and your family. 

Important Resources

JMU is committed to assisting your student throughout their college experience from application to graduation. We offer a wide range of resources to support and engage you and your family.

Academic Advising
Academic Advising is provided to all students through our various academic colleges to help students navigate their academic journeys throughout the duration of their degree programs.  

Accessibility Resources
Accessibility Resources provides students with disabilities the necessary accommodations and accessibility to our community and classrooms, both on campus and in our online spaces.

Counseling Center
The Counseling Center offers a wide variety of mental health services and resources to support students including 24-hour TimelyCare.

Financial Aid
At JMU, we understand that college is an investment in your future. Our Financial Aid office is here to ensure that our students are educated and have the resources to help make their education as affordable as possible.  

Student Employment Opportunities
Working on campus is an excellent way to earn money while attending college. There are numerous positions available to both work study and non-work study students through our various offices and locations on campus. Student internships are posted on Handshake.

Office of Family Engagement
The Office of Family Engagement provides families of current students with programs, services and information to enhance their understanding of the student experience and better support their student's academic and social growth. Please also see: Helpful Family Resources & First-Year Families/Expectations

University Business Office
JMU uses a system called Madison Money Manager (M3) for student accounts. This is where students or anyone authorized by the student can view or make an online payment to the student's JMU account. Parents are not automatically given access, your student can make family members an authorized user to access the M3 portal.

University Health Center
The University Health Center (UHC) provides students with medical care and learning opportunities so they can develop the knowledge and abilities to manage their health. Visits to the health center are covered through students’ tuition though there may be a charge for some services such as lab work. Students are responsible for payment at the time of service; the health center does not bill insurance. MyJMUChart is a secure online patient portal which gives students the ability to receive secure messages from the University Health Center, schedule or cancel appointments, access receipts and enter their medical and immunization history.

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