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Overview of First-Generation College Students


Learn more about what it means to be a first-generation student!

Scroll further down to hear from the experts about current issues facing first-generation college students and suggested readings.

SCROLL DOWN

Overview of First-Generation College Students


Learn more about what it means to be a first-generation student!

Scroll further down to hear from the experts about current issues facing first-generation college students and suggested readings.

First-generation college students experience college differently than their non-first-gen student peers. According to Jennifer Engle at the American Federation of Teachers: “While students whose parents have a college education tend to experience ‘college as a continuation’ of their academic and social experiences in high school, going to college often constitutes a ‘disjunction’ in the lives of first-generation students and their families. As a result, first-generation students have to make much more complex academic, social, and cultural transitions to college life, especially during the crucial first year.” [1]

Since their parents lack postsecondary education, first-generation college students “could not expect or receive guidance from their family and were not confident enough to seek the support of teaching or administrative staff ” demonstrating a significant social capital cap between first and non-first-gen students. [2] As such, first-generation students enter college with a set of distinctive barriers,  and therefore are at a higher risk to drop out, take longer to complete their program, choose unfamiliar careers, or end up in employment much below their potential. [3]

Research on academic and social integration of first-generation students has shown that their interaction with faculty or advisers was limited and that first-generation students are more hesitant to seek help from these support services. [2] Even with the same academic preparation and performance, first-generation students are still less likely to experience successes in college, especially in the first year.[4]

These barriers must be addressed at the personal, institutional, and systemic levels to ensure that more first-generation college students who wish to pursue postsecondary education not only get to, but through college. Colleges and universities must better understand the specific needs of first-generation college students, and implement specific programs to better support them. Students and administrators must come together to move their institutions forward and better ensure success for all.   


Scholarly Research Articles 

College access

Social Mobility

First-Gen Achievement


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Books


Sometimes there's no better way to learn than by reading a book or memoir.

Below are some great reads related to class, social mobility, and the value of a liberal education

 

Books


Sometimes there's no better way to learn than by reading a book or memoir.

Below are some great reads related to class, social mobility, and the value of a liberal education

 

Class and Social Mobility

Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb. 1972. The Hidden Injuries of Class. (228 pgs)

Annette Lareau. 2003. Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. (343 pgs)

Alfred Lubrano. 2005. LIMBO: Blue Collar Roots, White Collar Dreams (248 pages)

Memoirs or Biographies

Ron Suskind. 1998. A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League. (384 pgs)

Richard Rodriguez. 1982. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. (212 pgs)

On College 

Magaziner, Ira C., and Elliot E. Maxwell. The Magaziner-Maxwell report: the seed of a curricular revolution at Brown. Providence, R.I.: Open Jar Foundation, 2011. Print.

Delbanco, Andrew. College: what it was, is, and should be. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.

Education Policy

Bowen, William G., and Martin A. Kurzweil. Equity and excellence in American higher education. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005. Print.

Karabel, Jerome. The chosen: the hidden history of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print.

Kahlenberg, Richard D., ed. 2010. Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College. New York: Century Foundation Press.

Kahlenberg, Richard D. 2008. Left Behind: Unequal Opportunity in Higher Education. New York, N.Y.: Century Foundation.

Kahlenberg, Richard D. 2004. America’s Untapped Resource: Low-Income Students in Higher Education. Century Foundation Press.

 

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Experiences at the Ivies


Hear from first-generation college students about their experiences, frustrations, and hopes in the Ivy League.

Experiences at the Ivies


Hear from first-generation college students about their experiences, frustrations, and hopes in the Ivy League.

Brown:

Columbia:

Cornell:

Dartmouth:

Harvard: 

Princeton:

University of Pennsylvania:

Yale:

 

 

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