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Old 11-09-2017, 08:38 PM
 
Location: Bay View, Milwaukee
2,072 posts, read 4,006,769 times
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[I searched to see if there are threads already dedicated to this topic, but nothing appeared]

The phrase "first-generation college student" seems easy enough on the surface: a student whose parents (and grandparents) did not attend college. A Google search yields this definition quite readily, and many colleges, scholarship offices, and online college advice sites echo this definition.

But it seems that quite a few other institutions and sites have a broader approach to understanding the term. For many of these places, a first-generation college student has parents (and, presumably, grandparents) who did not graduate from college. I recently read that Brown University, among others, has taken this approach.

It seems to me that there would be a difference between "first-generation college student" and "first-generation college graduate," though places with the broader definition seem to think that the advantage for college-attendees (among one's parents) lies primarily in the fact of graduation, not merely in attendance.

I'm interested in hearing what folks on this forum think, in part for personal reasons. My father attended the University of Rochester for a year or so, and after World War II attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for a year or so. In high school he had apprenticed in architectural design, and after his stints with college and the service, he received certifications in engineering from American Locomotive and other companies.

Because he had received all of this post-secondary training and education, it never occurred to me that I might officially be a first-gen college student when I went to college. Being first-gen wasn't such a big deal then (the 80s) as it is now, but still, it's interesting to me that I didn't perceive myself as one and I didn't avail myself of any resources targeted to first-gen.

But was I first-gen? Ultimately, I subscribe more to the first definition above, so I probably wasn't. Also, I was raised in an affluent and academically-ambitious community, so i didn't seem to qualify on the grounds of societal disadvantage and such. It does seem clear that I'm first-gen college grad, though. That seems to be a good thing in its own right.

Just wondering about reactions to these definitions and scenarios.
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Old 11-10-2017, 02:33 AM
 
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My mother completed a child development program in a continuing education department at a community college. I think the program was only six weeks. She was of no help with providing advice when I was considering college. She didn't know how to navigate the system any more than I did. I made some mistakes and eventually learned everything on my own. Apparently, my father took some college courses, but I rarely had contact with him. In my opinion, I was a first generation college student.
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:28 AM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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My step-son, who now has a Ph.D.
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Middle America
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I was the first to attend college on my mom's side. My dad was the first on his side, but I was the first female to do so on his side.

My parents were both very helpful in navigating the admissions process, though.
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:51 AM
 
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I fall into the "did not attend" camp. The reason is there is more to college than the classroom and someone who hasn't attended really cannot understand what college life is. Nor can they understand how to study in college vs high school, nor the difficulty of college classes.


It's not about affluence, but about the level of preparation and information they can provide to their children about attending, picking a major, picking a college, college life, etc. Those who have been can provide better guidance than those who haven't.


Sound more like some colleges are trying to redefine the term so students (and therefore the college) can tap into some of the programs for first gen students.
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Old 11-11-2017, 05:56 PM
 
Location: TX and NM on the border of the Great Southwest.
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Is there actually money available for so-called 1st generation students? I'm pretty sure there wasn't in my university in the southwest the 1970s or the financial people there would have mentioned it at some point. Neither my parents or my grandparents finished high school.
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Old 11-12-2017, 12:54 PM
 
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I was the first to attend and graduate college in my family. I come from a very blue collar family.

There is a lot to be proud of being the "first" at anything. However, the lack of preparation and guidance made it a lot more difficult than it probably could have been.
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Old 11-12-2017, 01:42 PM
 
Location: somewhere flat
1,315 posts, read 1,114,487 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Left-handed View Post
I was the first to attend and graduate college in my family. I come from a very blue collar family.

There is a lot to be proud of being the "first" at anything. However, the lack of preparation and guidance made it a lot more difficult than it probably could have been.

So was I. My mother graduated from high school, and then attended secretarial school. My father went to a fundamentalist Christian college in upstate NY, run by his church. He went for one year, on the GI Bill and then, he left. I have no idea why. He later became a maintenance worker at a local state college after working as a milkman, a groundskeeper on an estate, a farm hand, a school bus driver, and more jobs than I can count.

My maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Northern Island who worked on estate and my grandmother cleaned house. They received free housing for this.

My father's parents came here from Sweden inn the 1920s. He was a plasterer by trade and managed to buy a piece of property and build a house. Neither attended college.

So, I'd say that my background is solidly working class and I am a first generation college graduate.

My parents were of little help to me in choosing a college. They suggested Christian colleges (fundamentalist), Bible schools, community colleges, state colleges, and a couple of secular commuter schools.

I think first generation college students have a more difficult time selecting colleges, and graduating from them. I was fortunate to live in a high performing school district where I had very personal guidance counseling. I was a National Merit Scholar. I applied to four of the best SUNY colleges, and some liberal arts Christian colleges.

My parents steered me to the Christian college. It wasn't bad at the time, but I needed to expand my world, not further limit it. Christian colleges were actually less conservative then, than they appear to be now.

ETA - I am still a Christian, but not a fundamentalist.

After college, I obtained a masters degree.
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Old 11-12-2017, 02:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulJourn View Post
So was I. My mother graduated from high school, and then attended secretarial school. My father went to a fundamentalist Christian college in upstate NY, run by his church. He went for one year, on the GI Bill and then, he left. I have no idea why. He later became a maintenance worker at a local state college after working as a milkman, a groundskeeper on an estate, a farm hand, a school bus driver, and more jobs than I can count.

My maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Northern Island who worked on estate and my grandmother cleaned house. They received free housing for this.

My father's parents came here from Sweden inn the 1920s. He was a plasterer by trade and managed to buy a piece of property and build a house. Neither attended college.

So, I'd say that my background is solidly working class and I am a first generation college graduate.

My parents were of little help to me in choosing a college. They suggested Christian colleges (fundamentalist), Bible schools, community colleges, state colleges, and a couple of secular commuter schools.

I think first generation college students have a more difficult time selecting colleges, and graduating from them. I was fortunate to live in a high performing school district where I had very personal guidance counseling. I was a National Merit Scholar. I applied to four of the best SUNY colleges, and some liberal arts Christian colleges.

My parents steered me to the Christian college. It wasn't bad at the time, but I needed to expand my world, not further limit it. Christian colleges were actually less conservative then, than they appear to be now.

ETA - I am still a Christian, but not a fundamentalist.

After college, I obtained a masters degree.

Pretty much agree with what you said. Dad never finished high school and worked an assortment of different jobs before he hit is niche. Really didn't need a degree to be successful back then and he retired as a reasonably successful marketing consultant. My mom also went to secretarial school. I was from a small mill town and farming community so the school really didn't have a strong college flavor to it. I was the first in the family to go and really got no reasonable help in picking colleges, my major, or anything from either school or family. Dad tried to advise me on what college was like but as I discovered when I got there, he really had no clue and had given me some wrong, and some cases bad, information on how to be a college student.


Having been to college I was much more able to help my kids plan and prepare for it. I have noticed her college has a much better orientation and more specific support for first time college students than when I went. And our state has created an entire program of free CC for new graduates. As part of that they've assumed most of the students who use the program would be first time college families so they've done a massive push in each school district to recruit mentors from the business community that have been to college to guide all these students through the application, choosing a major, and first semester. Some of the lesson's learned out of the first year of the program that many of these students needed help with understanding how to read a class schedule (because they were used to a consistent day to day high school bell schedule unlike the class at different times and days in college); how to get between classes when they're in different buildings; and how to read a syllabus to understand college expectations.
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:08 AM
 
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Practically most immigrants are first generation as well because if you didn’t go through undergrad college admission process in US, you have no clue of what’s going on. However, from legal stand point, they are not, no matter how ignorant they are in this matter. That is unfair to their children who have little to no guidance.
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