Department of Residential Life

First in the Family Community

The First in the Family Community (located in the newly renovated Ordal Hall) is designed to support first-generation students and assist them in their transition from high school to college. Residents of the First in the Family Community live and learn in a welcoming and safe environment.

What is First in the Family Community?
The First in the Family Community is a living/learning community designed with first-generation students specifically in mind. The Community identifies with the definition set forth by Pacific Lutheran University’s Admission Office: neither parent graduated from a four-year, degree-granting institution within the U.S. While students reside in the Community, they will develop their own definition of what it means to be a first-generation college student. Additionally, they will explore how their first-generation identity intersects with other identities, as well as how their identity affects their college experience.

Learning Outcomes:

  • By participating in the First in the Family Community, participants will be able to achieve academic excellence as a result of utilizing campus resources as demonstrated by fulfilling personal academic goals each academic term.
  • By participating in the First in the Family Community, participants will be able to express their educational values as a result of a) reflecting on their paths to PLU and b) engaging in dialogue with campus partners as demonstrated by articulating their personal view of higher education and its affect on how they approach their undergraduate education.

Why should students live in the First in the Family Community?

  • For students who are the first in their family to attend college
  • Houses 30 residents
  • Served by 1 Resident Director and 2 Resident Assistants
  • Course link with PSYC 113 – Career & Educational Planning
  • Connect with faculty and administrators
  • Study with peers
  • Have fun in a social environment
  • Feel connected to the university

New in 2014!
The First in the Family Community will be linked to an academic course called Career & Educational Planning. Often referred to as PSYC 113, the course helps students identify their values, interests, personal styles, and skills to discover majors and careers that they would find fulfilling. Further, students research potential majors and careers to make informed decisions about which classes to take. Lastly, the course teaches students how to use campus resources that assist them in their academic pursuits and provide support in developing a long-term career plan.

Past Events/Activities:

  • Overnight hosts for prospective high school students who are first-generation college students
  • Visits to local high schools to talk about one’s experience in college
  • Panels on campus sharing stories about one’s experience as a first-generation college student
  • “Field trips” to campus resources like the Library, which includes the Writing Center and Academic Assistance

I’m First –
First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama –
Making A Difference in Community –
Act Six –
College Success Foundation –
National College Access Network –

More Information
Anyone interested in becoming a resident in the First in the Family Community should contact Residential Life for more information at or 253-535-7200.