By Maggie Nelson, Jasmyn Pearl, Alekya Raghavan
For thousands of adolescents, starting college is a major milestone. It’s an adventure they’re eager to begin. First-generation college students, however, may be intimidated by the credit hours and hundred-seat lecture halls. Though pursuing higher education is a new experience for everyone, being incognizant of what lies ahead makes the situation more stressful.
According to Angela Lash, the Assistant Director of the Allen Student Advising Center at Ohio University (OU), about a quarter of the incoming students at OU are first-generation. She says these first-generation students face several challenges.
“First-gen students may just have less support or not have a resource at home that they can ask questions about for things regarding processes of the university,” Lash says. “We also see self-efficacy concerns sometimes. First-gen students may be more likely to doubt their ability to do well here.”
Carli Rosati, a rising senior at OU, is a first-generation student who works at the Allen Center. As someone who’s always enjoyed school, she is happy to have such a supportive family behind her. But she admits there are downsides to being the first person in her family to go to college.
“Even though my family was a big advocate for me, they don’t necessarily have the tools that they would like to have,” Rosati says. “When I go home sometimes it’s even difficult to hold conversations with my family, because I don’t want to seem like I’m above them.”
According to the University of Oregon’s Counseling and Testing Center, a lack of knowledge about higher education is likely to prevent students from “taking advantage of the academic and social benefits of higher education.”
Senior Mitchell Simmons, majoring in Criminal Justice, believes there are several things we can do to make first-generation students feel more at home.
“If anything, we could help first generation students be brought in to the college experience better,” Simmons says. “Be told what to expect from classes and stuff, just from our parent’s perspective.