First Generation Students Find Support and Resources for College Success at University of Phoenix

Since neither of his parents had attended college, Kalen Baliles did not immediately assume that he would pursue a higher education degree. Instead, he found a job with a gas and oil company after graduating from high school. But college called to him. Ultimately, he found his path at University of Phoenix and said the experience meant so much, not just for him but for his family, his parents and his children. “It was a dream to go back and actually finish [college] and show my family, ‘Hey, we can do this,’” Baliles said.

Like many first-generation college students, Baliles lacked a built-in support network of friends and family who knew the college process and who could help him navigate any challenges he encountered. So he created his own. Together, with three other classmates in an operations management course, Baliles created a study and academic support group that carried him through his degree experience.

The Challenges of Being First Generation

First-generation college students face unique challenges and can benefit from a college or university that understands their needs and has designated resources to support them. First-generation students, defined as those with biological parents who did not complete a four-year degree, often come from families that lack financial means, and they have to learn to navigate financial aid resources on their own.

Many of these students find the application and loan process challenging and may opt not to apply to many schools due to financial and time constraints. And first-generation students are also more likely to be a member of a racial or ethnic minority group.

University of Phoenix has Resources to Support First Gen Students

With its long history serving working adults, immigrants and first-generation students, University of Phoenix is can help first-generation applicants identify financial aid and scholarship opportunities, find mentorship and career support and succeed in their coursework. Of the 83,800 students enrolled at University of Phoenix, 59.7 percent are first-generation students, and just 14.1 percent had two parents who attended college.

Joshua Grove, a first-generation student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business degree program with a General Management Certificate at University of Phoenix, said he immediately tapped into University of Phoenix’s resources, including Phoenix Connect, the student library, both academic and financial counseling, student discounts and peer groups.

Baliles said he connected often with his academic advisor at University of Phoenix and took advantage of the University’s Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates. The program provides a one-stop destination for students and alumni to access numerous resources related to choosing a career path, developing a network, finding a mentor, putting together a resume, writing a cover letter, interviewing for roles, negotiating salaries and more.

In addition to support from individuals, available services include career blogs, videos and a Career Interest Assessment tool to help students find the job that is best suited to their interests. Thanks to the University’s Career Services for Life®, Baliles said, “I’ve revamped my resumé, and I finally know how to write a good cover letter!”

Career Services and Financial Support at University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix also helps guide students through the financial aid process, providing online, accessible financial tools that walk students through options like federal financial aid, tuition deferral, private student loans and scholarship opportunities. New students at University of Phoenix may be eligible for the $1,000 Phoenix® Scholarship, while students with eligible transfer credits  may be eligible for the $3,000 Transfer Scholarship. Through Prior Learning Assessment credits, which allow students to have work and life experiences evaluated for potential college credit, students can further reduce the cost of their education and the time to degree completion.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is committed to advancing the educational goals of adult and nontraditional learners and to providing maximum support for transfer students to reach their goals affordably. The University offers numerous associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs that prepare students for in-demand careers in fields including criminal justice, business, healthcare, education, information technology and cybersecurity. Through the 3+1 Transfer Pathway Program, students with an associate degree from a number of participating community colleges can also transfer up to 87 credits toward a bachelor’s degree program at University of Phoenix in health management, information technology, management or nursing.

Flexible schedules with multiple start dates give working adults the opportunity to complete their degree without putting their lives on hold, and University of Phoenix offers numerous scholarship opportunities, online learning and career-guided degree programs to help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit



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