FIRST-GEN is one of the Academic Themed Community options available to freshman seeking on campus living. This community is particularly geared for students who are the first to attend college in their family and who seek an extra layer of support to ensure success during their first year of college.  FIRST-GEN is designed to maximize success at Sonoma State University by helping residents connect to each other, and creating a support system within the FIRST-GEN community.  FIRST-GEN is dedicated to facilitating the development of helpful relationships between residents and SSU faculty and staff, and through offering intentional academic and personal development programming that will help students make the most of their SSU experience.  

FIRST-GEN students, faculty, and student staff are engaged in a holistic approach in addressing transition to college and academic skill development in the classroom, and as a residential community member.  Through active involvement in FIRST-GEN, students will be better prepared to meet the demands of university life through understanding of self, and utilization of campus resources, and through developing and fostering mentoring relationships with student leaders, faculty and staff. 

In the fall, FIRST-GEN students are enrolled together in University 102 , First Year Experience, (2 unit elective credit) transitions course.  FIRST-GEN students are also enrolled together in a yearlong course specially reserved for FIRST-GEN students related to the theme of race in contemporary U.S., (4 units GE credit).  The classes are integrated into the programs and activities offered in the residential community. Therefore, students can apply what they are learning in one class to all the classes and what they are engaging in outside of the classroom.

Students who reside in the FIRST-GEN living area will be assigned to the Zinfandel Village.

Please note that the following majors are not eligible to participate in the FIRST-GEN program due to required major courses that conflict with FIRST-GEN classes: Chemistry/Biochemistry, Communication Studies, Engineering, Hutchins, Mathematics, Music and Theater Arts.


To help prepare First Generation students become connected to Sonoma State’s, resources, programs and other that FIRST-GEN students, and feel more comfortable and successful in a university setting. Students will be able to create community with other First Gen students where they can help each other succeed here at Sonoma State.

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  • Through active participation in the FIRST-GEN community students will:
  • Students will be able to identify and use campus resources that will help them be successful in their college transition.
  • Students will take classes together to develop connections with a common academic experience.
  • Students will interact with Sonoma State faculty to better understand the role of students in classroom and gain additional support.
  • Students will build connections with other FIRST-GEN students that will allow them to have a support network with students going through similar experiences and transition.


  • Development of effective relationships with faculty, advanced student leaders, and other professional staff
  • Exploration of career and learning goals both in the classroom and outside
  • Opportunity to live in a unique community of learners that have the shared experience of being the first in their family to attend college
  • Campus leadership opportunities
  • A "Safe Space" where differences can be openly explored and where all are welcomed

The FIRST-GEN living/learning community is housed in Semillon in Zinfandel Village, which includes the Residential Life Office, Study Lounge, Service Desk, and Zinfandel Pool. To maintain a small, close-knit community where students have the opportunity to create one-on-one relationships with faculty and staff associated with the program, space is limited to 46 residents.

Student Leader Staff
One of the signature points of the FIRST-GEN Program is the utilization of a team of advanced student leaders who play a critical role in connecting the classroom to the living room. FIRST-GEN has two Peer Mentors, who co-teaches a specialized section of University 102 (First Year Experience transitions course) and a Community Service Advisor (CSA), who resides in the building and creates community building activities and events. The student leader team also arranges for outside of the class field trips, and events with faculty members. Additionally, they will focus on teaching FIRST-GEN residents effective study skills, including the utilization of study groups within their community.

Strong Faculty Commitment

Strong connections with  faculty complement the ACE program. The importance of faculty commitment to this program is affirmed by out-of-class involvement with students at meals, study sessions, field trips, and receptions.

  • There is no additional fee to participate in the program, even though there are many additional benefits provided by both the Residential Life Office and the academic departments. No English placement or Math placement requirements. Because there is the living component, students must live on-campus in the FIRST-GEN building their entire freshman year. Failure to maintain enrollment in all FIRST-GEN courses will result in a forfeit of the FIRST-GEN contract and students will be required to move to a different building or village, space permitting. Must live on campus in the designated FIRST-GEN building, the entire academic year. No exceptions.
  • Maintain enrollment in all FIRST-GEN courses both Fall and Spring semesters. No exceptions.
  1. Check each program to determine its individual requirements.
  2. Select First-Gen as your desired Academic Community when you complete your online Housing License Agreement. This process takes place through the Housing Office in the spring.

Prospective students who are interested in being a part of the FIRST-GEN program should contact:
For residential and programming questions:
Becky Young
Area Coordinator

For course registration and enrollment questions:
Alvin Nguyen
FLC Coordinator