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WKU's future and current first-generation college students


WKU's future and current first-generation college students

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Welcome WKU future and current first generation college students!  This page will help direct you to our university's resources to support the success of first generation college students. You will find helpful information to know when deciding to attend WKU, while you are here, and when preparing for graduation. 









Preparing for College


students walking on campus
Visit WKU
Schedule a tour

Western Kentucky University offers tours year round for prospective students, recently admitted students and guests to visit our beautiful campus. Tours are primarily led by our students. If your student already has a degree in mind or has been admitted, they can schedule an additional tour with their academic department. 

Schedule a Tour

Big Red points to you
Attend Head for the Hill
Join us for our open house

Head for The Hill is a free, open house event that offers a comprehensive look at WKU’s outstanding academic offerings, student activities, and beautiful campus. Sessions are offered to provide valuable information about life on The Hill, and an information expo allows students and their families the opportunity to personally connect with representatives from different academic departments, student services, housing, financial aid, and more!

Learn more

students discussing admissions
Get to Know Us
Meet your Admissions Counselors

WKU's Admissions Counselors visit schools, attend recruitment events, and also answer questions from prospective students and parents. They are a great resource for admitted students with questions about orientation dates and other deadlines. 

Meet Your Counselor




students looking at tips for success

What do you need to know before you start your application?


Applying to WKU is a simple process. The application can be completed online in about 15-20 minutes. The creation of a username and password is required to access, complete, and check the application’s status. For first-time freshmen to be admitted, we will need their completed application, the application fee, an ACT or SAT score, and an official high school transcript.

Once a student completes their senior year of high school, we will then need a final high school transcript which includes final grades and the date of graduation. This will not delay the application process or an admissions decision.

Fee-waivers for the application are need-based only. If your student has received an ACT or SAT test waiver, or receives free or reduced lunch, they will not have to pay the application fee (their high school guidance counselor will likely need to send us the waiver).

If a student needs assistance completing the application, they should contact the Admissions office at 270-745-2551. Anyone who answers can assist you with completing the application. To access the application, please visit: www.wku.edu/apply.

Learn more about admission requirements for first-time freshmen, transfer students, and adult learners on our WKU Admissions  page. 


Admission Requirements





The free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)is a no-cost application completed by both prospective and current college students in the U.S.  The FAFSA utilizes parent/guardian tax information from the previous year in order to determine the type of aid an applicant qualifies for such as federal grants, work-study, and loans. Some students may be selected for additional verification.

Before starting your FAFSA, have the following information:

  • FSA ID for both the student and the dependent student's parent/ stepparent/legal guardian
  • Your social security number or Alien Registration number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned.
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • Parents' date of birth, Social Security number, marital status, and date parent was married, divorced, or widowed.  


WKU Student Financial Assistance    Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

For the most up-to-date information, please visit the websites above. 

A completed application with the Admissions Office prior to the priority deadline will automatically qualify eligible students for Institutional Merit Scholarships. Scholarships must be accepted by deadline provided.

TOPDollar is our main scholarship source. There are over 1,400 scholarships that can be applied for. After acceptance, your student should complete the General Application on TOPDollar for a chance to be matched with additional scholarships that are determined by interests and involvement. For complete details on scholarships, visit WKU's Department of Student Financial Assistance.


Scholarships at WKU

Please confirm all details on this page with WKU's Department of Student Financial Assistance.

The Topper Orientation Program (TOP) is your student’s one-stop-shop to get ready for their first year on the Hill.  At orientation, you and your student are invited to spend the day on campus to attend information sessions, have lunch, and meet with representatives from every department on campus. Your student will receive their WKU I.D., be assigned an academic advisor, and receive their schedule of classes. Orientation sessions are offered throughout the spring and summer. To see which TOP dates are being offered and to register, please visit TOP


Topper Orientation Program

Please confirm all details on this page with WKU Admissions.

Once your student has been admitted, the next step is to complete the online Housing application. There is a deposit due at the time of application. The priority deadline to apply is available on their website. Assignments are made on a first-come, first-serve order. WKU requires that all full-time students live on campus for two years. Some exemptions apply.

There are a variety of residence hall styles on campus, and we encourage students to bring any approved items from the list to make their stay on campus enjoyable. For a list of approved residence hall items and housing information, please visit Housing & Residence Life and explore the Move-In Guide.

First-generation students may wish to apply to participate in a Living Learning Community (LLC).  Any LLC will help first-year students adapt to college life.  Choose the LLC for your major or college, or the F1rstGen LLC if you are not confident of your major.

Students who commute from their parent/guardian's permanent home and primary residence (50 miles or less), or who qualify for another exemption, can complete an exemption form to live off campus their first two years. Housing provides details on the exemption and the form on their Required Housing Policy & Exemption form page.  


 WKU Housing Office 

Please confirm the application fee and priority deadlines with the HRL office.



Move in
Packing List & School Supplies
Learn about the Move-In Dates

Packing List -There are a variety of residence hall styles on campus. Each room comes with a bed, dresser, desk, closet, and shelf.  WKU HRL also provides a list of approved and unapproved items to help with your move-in prep. Some of the top items for your shopping list might include bed linens (XL-twin), comforter, pillows, mini fridge (check with roommate), toiletries, laundry supplies, and microwave (check with roommate).

School Supplies - For each class, the instructor will provide a syllabus (semester outline) which details supplies needed for the class. However, students should bring writing utensils, paper, and folders or binders. Highlighters can be helpful. Keep in mind, WKU offers a 24-hour computer lab, and multiple computer labs across campus with varying hours. Instructors have different requirements related to mobile device use in class. 

Move-In List

M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan
M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan
Learn about M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan

M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan is WKU's transition program for all new undergraduate students that takes place the week before classes begin. It is designed to help your student smoothly transition to their new life as a Hilltopper. Students pay a fee to participate. While it is not required, M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan is a great program to get students acclimated to campus, learn about expectations as a new college student, and get a head start on making new friends. Over 2,000 students participate in M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan each year. 

M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan starts provides event opportunities for students and parents to learn about and experience the Hilltopper Spirit. Some activities include daily group sessions, “Hilltoppers at Night,” the Big Red's Blitz community service event, Meijer Mania, part-time job fair, and carnival.


M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan



While at WKU 


Kate Zuverink portrait

Kate Zuverink

Major: Elementary Education

Minor: Organizational Leadership


What would it mean to be the first person in your immediate family to graduate from college?

Being the first person in my immediate family to graduate not only means a significant amount to me, but it gives inspiration to my cousins to go to college. College helps you gain those necessary skills for life. It has not only taught me education, but it has taught me how to budget, manage time, balance, and so many other things.

How has WKU supported you in being successful in college? 

WKU has supported me to be successful in college by always having job opportunities. Without having job opportunities, I would have struggled on how to balance money, schoolwork, and extracurricular activities. WKU has been flexible around my school schedule and always being a student come first.

What resources/campus offices have assisted you along your journey?

Some of the resources that has assisted me in my journey is the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences like Dean Murphy, Jessica Basham, and the professors in the college. Without their help, I would have not been able to be a successful student. Not only are they fellows in my college, but they can be trusted with information that may be discussed in being a first-generation student.







Western Kentucky University offers countless resources that are free-of-charge for current students.  

For Academic Support - Students can take advantage of the Advising & Career Development Center to get advisement for classes and assistance with finding a job or internship. WKU also has learning centers and writing centers to help students with their classwork. Students with financial aid questions and concerns can always visit Potter Hall, third floor, to speak with someone. 

For Campus Involvement - WKU offers over 150 organizations for students to get engaged and enhance their college experience. Student Activities provides a list of organizations by categories such as professional, service, campus ministry, departmental, sorority, and fraternity. For students who would like to be more involved in their health, they can find multiple options for fitness and recreational clubs and activities at the Preston Center

General Student Success -  TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) provides opportunities to eligible, accepted participants for academic, financial, personal, and professional development. It serves to navigate students toward the successful completion of their post-secondary education through individual coaching, workshops, cultural events, as well as free resources and school supplies. At the same time, SSS-D focuses on supporting students with disabilities by helping them transition into college

Many students take advantage of the WKU Counseling Center. These confidential services allow students to talk openly to a licensed professional.  The university also takes campus safety seriously. We meet several requirements to maintain safety standards, this includes having the WKU Police Department on campus and emergency towers across campus.  

Students who are taking at least one online course can find helpful information and participate in success coaching through WKU C.A.R.E.S.



Preparing for Graduation


Graduation Fair table
Graduation Fair
Graduates waving red towel
graduate walking during ISEC celebration
ISEC Celebration
Graduate speaking during ceremony
Lavender Recognition


By the time your student is ready to apply for graduation, you may have this all figured out. This section provides a few helpful resources to prepare for graduation and for you to support their transition into life after college. You may have noticed that the first sentence said "Apply for graduation." Once a student has met the requirements for completion, they will pay a graduation fee. Students pick up their cap and gown and graduation information at the WKU Grad Fair.

Commencement refers to the event that confers degrees upon our graduates at WKU. The Commencement Ceremony only takes place in May each year. However, each semester WKU holds College Recognition Ceremonies to also recognize graduates during the last Friday of each semester.

In the days before commencement, there will be several ceremonies that take place across campus to recognize students. Some of these include the Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC) Recognition Celebration and the Lavender Recognition Ceremony.  The ISEC Celebration recognizes students of color graduating. The Lavender Recognition Ceremony recognizes LGBTQ student graduates and their allies. 



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 Last Modified 5/6/24