Discover Options

First-Generation Students

Seize Your Superpower

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First-generation students embark on the college journey with unique access to endless possibilities. During this process, it is very normal to encounter new challenges; whether you miss home, yearn to feel “a sense of belonging,” or doubt your abilities, you are not alone. Resources are available to help you achieve your goals.

We believe in the power of first-generation students to transform the world of work. Use this page to launch your career into uncharted territory and move forward with support from Career Services.


community liaison icon  Community Liaison to First-Generation Students: Jo Ann Villanueva-Salvador


Key Campus Resources

Discover Options: First-Generation Students

For complete information on assessing yourself, choosing majors, and exploring careers, review our starter tips to Discover Options in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.

Becoming Acquainted with UCSB

Congratulations on your acceptance into UCSB and achieving an extraordinary goal by attending one of the most prestigious universities in the nation!  As a first-generation student, you are setting the bar by being the first in your family to trailblaze the pursuit of a college degree. This is an exciting time for you to consider an array of possibilities. However, we understand that selecting a major or career path that best fits you individually can also be an overwhelming, daunting decision to make.  

At the beginning of your journey at UCSB, you may feel the need to align all of your academic pursuits and experiences towards a specific career path. Sometimes, with limited knowledge about the vast options of careers available, first-generation students may feel various external pressures, whether they are from family, friends, or oneself, to commit to a path before researching other career possibilities, or before truly understanding the pros and cons of each option. 


If you are unsure about your major and future career direction, taking career assessments can be extremely valuable in helping broaden your perspective and get a better understanding of who you are. For first and second-year students, FOCUS® 2 can be beneficial in providing recommendations for possible UCSB majors and careers to pursue.

Considering Major and Career Options

As a first-generation student, the best thing that you can do is explore early and often. UCSB offers a variety of academic options which range from Discovery Seminars, to General Education classes, to help you gain knowledge and insights about your interests. Through your academic coursework, start considering which types of subject material you enjoy, and contemplate whether you can see yourself studying it for the last two years through your upper division coursework. Understand and be aware that there is a tendency for families of first-generation students to overemphasize the value of STEM majors because of the prestige and “perceived” notion of more financial stability.  

Choose a major that you are not only good at but also genuinely interested in because the more engaged you are in the subject matter, the more eager you will be to learn and succeed academically. Additionally, keep in mind that it is important to determine whether or not you wish to pursue a STEM major early on because many courses are sequential and could potentially delay your graduation date. 


If you are interested in pursuing a STEM major, one unique program which you should take advantage of is called BioMentors. This is specifically geared toward helping first-generation students achieve academic success during their first two years of completing core preparatory work. 

At UCSB, you are connected to resources to help you explore your career options and understand how this fits in with who you are. You are not alone in this process. Whether you started college with every idea of what you want to be, or you discovered that you now want to be something different, Career Services is here to support you in your success.