College is not an easy task. It takes countless hours, sleepless nights, and can cause more stress than someone has ever experienced in their life. Getting through the huge amounts of material thrown at a student semester after semester during college is something to be extremely proud of. If education was tough in someone’s past experiences, like high school, then it will be difficult for that person to succeed in college. According to statistics, minorities, students from low income families, and first generation students do not do as well as majority, high income students, and non-first generation students. A first generation college student is someone that is the first person in their family to attend college. That means their parents, grandparents, and siblings have never attended college. College is usually a challenge for these students because of the lack of preparation from high school, and many students feel out of place at college when they are the first in their family to go. Some feel like they need to help the family out by getting a job instead of going to college. However, college will benefit these students more than ever. They need to understand why going to college and getting a degree will help them out more than just a high school diploma will. First generation students need to be taught the importance of college.
Success in college takes a lot of hard work and commitment to the classes studies. First generation students are many of the students that struggle with the work load of college. They are unprepared for the amount of material covered in a semester. This skill needs to be taught to them before arriving in order to have success in college. Many first generation students come from low income families and lack the materials in high school to get them prepared for college courses. It is hard for many of these students to want to stay in college with the amount of work that they will have to complete. According to the article, “First Generation College Students are not Succeeding in College,” only forty percent of first generation students at two or four year schools in the United States earn a bachelors or associates degree in six years they would be attending that school. That is fifteen percent lower than the students whose parents had attended college before they did. The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA shows the differences that many first generation students have compared to non-first generation student. The graphs and charts display the comparison of first generation students, many of which are minorities, compared to the students who are white. Asian/Pacific islanders are the only students that have a better graduation rate than whites. These students are showing up at college and they have no idea how to study, take notes, and write papers.
College is not cheap. Many students have trouble paying off the loans they are stuck with after college. For first generation students, many of their parents or siblings got a job right after they completed high school to help contribute to the family. When someone in a family like this decides to go to college, it can be hard to try and help that student financially. Plus, when the family tries to help the student in college, the idea of guilt begins to come to their mind. Many first generation students do not complete college because of the guilt that sets in by not being able to help provide for the family. In low income families, which is where many of these first generation students come from, each person in the family has a role given to them. Some have to start work or pursue other things that benefit the family.
The article, “Guilt is One of the Biggest Struggles First Generation College Students Face,” explains why many first generation students struggle with the thought of guilt while away at college. I know how important an education is to the future of not just myself, but my family. However, in this type of situation, I personally do not know what it must feel like to know someone’s family is trying to make ends meet so they can go to college. That student must not feel the amount of guilt eating away at themselves sometimes. The fact that everyone in that student’s family has begun to work right after they got out of high school. All of a sudden one person in the family decides to go to college must be hard for both the family and the student. Many students return home because the guilt bothers them so much. They feel as if they have deserted their families when they needed them most, and that is what keeps them from succeeding in college.
Learning from first generation students that finished college and graduated is important for other students experiencing the same dilemma. It is always good to get the perspective of someone that has been through the same issue as many other first generation students but were able to finish college. Liz Riggs writes in The Atlantic in their article, “What it is Like to be the First Person in your Family to go to College,” that many first generation students are able to get through the struggles of college when they have the help of a “mentor.” This could be peers, professors, or teacher’s assistants. When they provide support and help to keep that first generation student persistence in their school work pays off for them in the long run. These mentors understand the college process and their help increases the self-esteem of these first generation students that may not be as confident as they would like to be. These first generation students are representing their families name, and that can be a lot to handle for an eighteen to twenty year olds.
First generation students should have the same opportunities that all other students receive. They deserve to be taught what other students, who have been given more in their life than these students, have been taught about preparing for college and how to do well at college. The lack of preparation these students are receiving is failing first generation students when they decide to enter college. All these kids want to do is to be able to help their families, who usually are low income families, and make them proud. If they do not succeed in college, it destroys their confidence. If they do not help their families after high school by getting a job, it can cause them to feel mass amounts of guilt. Giving first generation students the proper preparation for college, and the sky is the limit. Who knows what one of these students could turn out to be.