What is a First-Generation Student?
First-generation community college students are the first in their immediate family to attend postsecondary school after high school, according to a report at ERIC Digests. This means that neither of the student's parents has attended college. Those whose parents have an associate degree would not be considered first-generation college students, even if the parent never went on to earn a bachelor's degree. Many first-generation community college students decide to earn a two-year degree before transferring to a four-year institution. However, only a small percentage of community college students actually achieve their transfer goals.
- Most first-generation community college students are not of the traditional college age. Many have been out of school for some time and are just returning to the hallowed halls of academia, making it difficult to get back into a "study mode."
- The majority of first-generation community college students are working full or part-time while attending college classes. This places additional time and financial restraints on these students, making academic success that much more elusive.
- A number of first-generation community college students are taking a smaller load of courses, probably in an effort to balance work and family responsibilities, as well as schoolwork.
- Financial responsibility – Many first-generation college students face the financial burden of their education alone, which can be a difficult hurdle to overcome.
- Guilty pleasure – As the first person in their family to attend college, some of these students feel a sense of guilt over their opportunity. While this guilt can motivate some to succeed, others have difficulty overcoming the negative emotions.
- Embarrassment – Some first-generation college students may feel a sense of embarrassment or shame about their advanced age or socioeconomic status that sets them apart from their peers.
- Confusion – For students that have been out of the academic sphere for some time, getting back into the swing of school and studies can be a challenge. In addition, some students in this category are simply unprepared for the red tape and bureaucracy of college administration.
- Apprehension – For students heading to college right from high school, the fear of leaving home and familiar surroundings can be frightening. This is especially true for minority students that will be facing a whole new culture in addition to the college scene.
According to The Seattle Medium, the cornerstone of the project is a website that provides true stories from Seattle Central's students and staff who were first-generation students themselves.