First Generation Students


First Generation students, congratulations on all your accomplishments so far in becoming a student of the University of California (UC)! Now, let us encourage and explore your interest in a study abroad or away opportunity! While you might be the first in your family to either go to college or be of the first generation here in this country, we want to let you know that you definitely don’t have to be the last! Study abroad or away is a great opportunity to leave a well-rounded academic legacy in your family and inspire others to follow in your footsteps. 

There are many other first-generation students like you who have already taken the big leap by studying away -  both in the U.S and abroad, you can read some of their stories here. You should know that most study abroad or away programs are non-competitive, (though some might be limited capacity) meaning that you are not competing against anyone for your spot in a program. All you have to do is make sure you are eligible by looking over the program’s eligibility requirements. These requirements will always include class standing (based on credits, not year) and cumulative GPA. Sometimes they might require course prerequisites, language level, and language GPA, for example. 

Did you know that the UC is recognized globally as a top university and that while you are abroad or away, people will recognize you as a top student of such a prestigious and rigorous university? This will unlock access to much new learning, research, internship, and volunteer opportunities! And in turn, these new experiences will open up a world of endless possibilities for you. 

Getting Started 

To get started, just like any other student looking to engage in an intercultural education experience, you should:

  1. Speak to your major, minor, and college advisors about your academic plan and your desire to participate in a study abroad or away program. They can offer you guidance and information about how to make an academic plan to see where you can best fit a study abroad or away program in your graduation plan and goals. See the section on Academic Planning below for more insight on how to get that process started!
  2. Fill out this program exploration worksheet to help you brainstorm what you want to get out of this study abroad or away experience.
  3. Create a Student Profile on Slugs Abroad where you will receive information and resources based on your identities and needs. This Student Profile is also a requirement that needs to be done in order to apply to any study abroad or away program.
  4. Explore your options for different program types. You are welcome to come to a Program Exploration Session, which is an event designed to help guide your search as you browse different programs and locations.  Check our calendar for the time and date for this event. 
  5. If you need further assistance or would like to gain deeper insight into a particular program, you can speak to a Study Abroad Advisor about the different programs you are considering.  Another really great way to gather insight about a program you are interested in is to request to be connected with a study abroad or away alumni by emailing A Study Abroad Alumni is someone who has already done the program you are interested in and could potentially offer you further insight.  
  6. Request a financial estimate for the program or programs you are interested in, if you receive financial aid. If you plan on participating in a program during the academic year for which your financial aid package applies, know that the same percentage of cost coverage your receive for attending UCSC will be the same percentage of cost coverage you will receive for your program away from UCSC. Your financial aid package will be adjusted to the cost of the program. If a program costs more than attendance UCSC, the percentage of financial aid coverage you receive will remain the same, though the amount of dollars you receive may increase. If a program costs less than attendance at UCSC, the percentage of financial aid coverage you receive will remain the same, though the amount of dollars you receive may decrease. 
  7. Create a budget sheet for the program(s) you are interested in,  including any extra costs you may anticipate. This way you can get a better idea of how much you will have to pay out of pocket and you can plan ahead for these expenditures.
  8. Make a decision about which program would best fit your personal, professional, and academic goals! 
  9. Apply to your program by the deadline! Each program will have its particular set of application instructions, so be sure to check these requirements ahead of time and give yourself at least one month to turn it in. You have from the time of the application opening date until the deadline date to turn it in. 
  10. Wait about 3 weeks for a response regarding your acceptance to your program of interest!

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Academic Planning 

To get started, all students should make an academic plan that matches their academic goals. Find out what classes are required to complete your degree when they have to be taken, how long it will take to execute this plan, and where you can fit study abroad or away into all of this. On a study abroad or away program, you can receive major, minor, GE, or elective credit - it really is up to you what you want to get out of the program and do with your time away. If you want to start brainstorming this process, you should fill out this program exploration worksheet.  

Next, start exploring the different program type options on the UCSC Study Abroad website. Be sure that you choose a program that matches your academic, personal, and professional goals. Does the program offer coursework in your major if you need upper-division elective major credit? Or coursework that will count toward GE credit? Does it offer internship or research opportunities if that’s what you’re looking for? What about an opportunity to practice your language skills? You should choose a program not only because it’s in a place you desire to go to, but one that will serve you academically, personally and professionally - this way you are sure to get a well-rounded experience! 

UCEAP programs tip: You should check the course descriptions listed on the UCEAP program pages or EAP Course Catalog to preview what coursework might be offered and what requirements and opportunities the courses might cover. If you want to see what coursework might fulfill GE requirements while you’re away, you can check out the UCSC Campus Credit Abroad Database

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

While study abroad or away was historically accessed by students of a high socio-economic background, likely with generations of higher education before them, we want to let you know that as a UC student, you have the financial resources and academic support to make your study abroad or away dreams a possibility. Did you know that for UC study abroad or away programs, your financial aid package goes with you and is redesigned to meet program costs? What this means is that regardless of where you go in the world, under a UC study abroad or away program you could receive the same percentage of financial aid that you receive already for attending UC Santa Cruz. Whether your financial aid package covers about 90%, 75%, 40%, or another percentage of your undergraduate costs, know that this same percentage coverage can go with you on a UC study abroad or away program. Our campus here at UC Santa Cruz is one of two UC campuses where you can request an estimate for a financial aid package designed for a study abroad or away program. Once you receive an estimate, you can make a program budget sheet to determine out of pocket costs and plan accordingly. There are many study abroad or away scholarships for which to apply as well. Look for scholarships ahead of time, make note of deadlines, and apply to any and all scholarships that you qualify for!

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Talking to Loved Ones About Study Abroad or Away

Talking to your loved ones about study abroad or away can be a subject that may require some timing and planning. Coming to study at UCSC might be the first time that you have found yourself away from your loved ones and they may be concerned about you going even farther away from them by studying in another city, state, or country. If you find yourself a little bit nervous about talking to them, know that you have all the resources you need (including academic and financial planning information) to support your argument about why you want to study abroad or away and how you’re going to do it. You can let them know that it is going to compliment your studies at UCSC and open up new academic, personal, and professional opportunities for you. And, you can explain that financial aid goes with students who receive it. If they are concerned about the location that you are going to, be sure to do your research about and let them know some reassuring facts about the place. You should also let them know that you will have on-site support by staff and that you will be with other students as well. These are just some of the many points you can use to enhance your conversation with your loved ones about study abroad or away.  Feel free to check out this guide about Talking to Your Loved Ones About study abroad or away to help plan out this conversation you may likely have. 

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Connect with a Study Abroad Alumni

If you want to connect with other students who have returned from their study abroad or away program to learn about their experience, feel welcome to email and request to be connected with a study abroad or away Alumni from the particular program(s) you’re interested in. This is the best way to get all the inside information that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere - from the learning experience to politics, to the weather, fashion, and everything in between. First-Gen students, know that there is a world of opportunities out there for you and there are other students out there like you looking to connect, along with staff to support you as well! If you want to take a look at the first-hand account of a first-generation student who studied abroad three times while fulfilling her personal, academic and professional goals at UCSC, take a read of this article she wrote, First-Generation and Low-Income Students: How to study abroad or away in the U.S. and Abroad. If you want to know about what her experience was like abroad, you can watch this video titled Who I Am Abroad - Elisabet García. Be sure to take a look at the other Student Stories as well! 

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First-Gen Study Abroad or Away Snapshot 

  • Follow the Get Started Guide that is listed above!
  • Go away on your program and live your best life - take advantage of all the opportunities for academic, personal, and professional growth!
  • Come back and connect with the Career Center to learn how to enhance your resume for job or graduate school applications with all the new enriching experiences you achieved while away - this will definitely set you apart from your competition in the job market. 
  • Leave a legacy for friends, family, and future generations to follow. 
  • Share your experience with our office! 
  • Join our alumni community and find post-undergraduate opportunities!

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Student Perspectives

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Additional Resources

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