First Graduate’s Alumni: Beating the Odds

At First Graduate, our mission is simple: help students become the first in their families to graduate from college ready to pursue careers that are meaningful to them. 

Through the generous support of our donors and the tireless work of our board and team members, we’re fulfilling these dreams each year.

That’s why we’re happy to share that after adding the graduating class of Spring 2023, we have 204 alumni in the First Graduate® family.

Average Graduation Rates

College is tough! As of 2022, only 62.3% of undergraduates complete their degree within six years. And considering the average single-year cost of attending college at an in-state public university is $24,015, taking longer to complete a degree is costly. This harsh reality causes many students to drop out, with those managing to graduate amassing thousands of dollars in debt. 

What many don’t realize is the direct correlation between college costs, drop-out rates, loan defaults, & decreased wage earnings.  In the United States, 32.9% of undergraduate students fail to complete their degrees, making them  100 times more likely to default on their college loans. In addition, they also make 32.6% less than those who complete their studies and graduate.

The numbers are worse for first-generation students.

The college dropout statistics become even more concerning for first-generation students. These learners soften encounter additional challenges making them more susceptible to either dropping out or taking an extended period to complete their degrees – often more than six years.

Given the added challenges of needing to support themselves through the college journey due to familial financial challenges, it’s no surprise that three-fourths of college dropouts nationwide are first-generation students.  

These numbers clearly show that first-generation students need support in more areas than one. Self-sustaining on multiple levels, they lack the financial support or educational guidance from their families, some even not seeing the need to complete a college degree. These factors make it harder for them to stay in school. 

What Makes First Graduate® Students Special

First Graduate® seeks to close the opportunity gap for first-generation students. And even though the statistics suggest that the deck is stacked against them, First Graduate® research shows that our students have risen to the occasion time and time again. 

Simply put, their experience is different: 

  • 5.2% of students graduated in three years
  • 71.4% of students graduated in four years
  • 17.7% of students graduated in five years
  • 3.1 of students  graduated in six years

All in all, 97% of our students graduated in 6 years or less, far surpassing the national average and dwarfing the graduation rate of first-generation students nationwide.

99% of our high school seniors graduate and enroll in a 2- or 4-year college.

What makes First Graduate® students different?

We make a 12-year commitment to each student, starting with a rigorous five-week Summer Session after sixth grade. Each student and their family have a coach assigned to address individual student needs, which includes family home visits, monthly student meetings, family and student conferences, and connections with teachers, administrators, counselors, and programmatic partners to stay on top of students’ academic performance. Student evaluations take place every semester by our staff according to a rubric that includes both attendance and school performance measured by progress reports and final report cards.

First Graduate® Works, But We Need Your Help!

The numbers speak for themselves. First Graduate® helps first-generation students beat all odds and graduate on time. The support, guidance, and direction we give students help them navigate a system that once set them up for failure.

We estimate that there are 2,000 sixth graders in the San Francisco Unified School District each year that could become first-generation college graduates. By closing the opportunity gap in a way that aligns with district-stated goals–such as creating a college-going culture in middle school–we are ideal partners for SFUSD. First Graduate® is the only college-access program that starts in middle school and supports students beyond college graduation.

All of this support-driven success is only possible because of the contributions from our donors. That’s why we’re offering you the opportunity to support our generation-changing organization with donations to our end-of-fiscal year campaign. Our goal is to raise $20,000 by the end of this month to sustain the positive impact we have on our First Graduate® students in a way that changes their lives forever.

Donate here!

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At First Graduate, we decry anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at our schools, college campuses, and in our communities. Our organization centers around providing access to quality education for everyone. We must stand with all who acknowledge and respect the humanity in each of us. We are one species. In this divisive moment, we implore you to