• Helping First Generation College Students Succeed

  • Upon graduating with my bachelor’s in Secondary Education from Brooklyn College, I was beyond nervous for a variety of reasons. I was the first in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and I did not want […]

    • Akeem,

      Can Sylvia and I use some of this (if we need) for our website? Most of what you say here is exactly why we want to restructure teacher prep programs.

    • Amazing, the disconnect between your teacher ed curriculum and real life, and glad that your classmates can use your experience to guide their work!

  • Attending college for the first time for many students can be an exciting and adventurous journey, but for first-generation students, venturing onto a college campus for the first time can be just as […]

    • We had a lot of good discussion about this in class — creating a special “ambassador” kind of corps to make the mentor group feel special, could be done as low budget as possible. I’d give some thought to how you would market to this group, what they would be called, maybe business cards that identify them as part of a special (I’m trying to avoid the word “elite”) group.

      And I think it was Joe who had a good model for you to use.

      As part of your paper, you might create a project timeline for how this would work: what would be the time to recruit, launch, assess, etc. And a list of resources involved: how many students would you need, what would be the size of the initial cohort, what would be the hard costs.

    • Hi Akeem.
      In the university I used to work in Chile we had a program aimed to first-generation, low income students who came from high-poverty schools. One feature of the program that seemed small, but that was mentioned by these students as very useful and relevant, was that they were invited to start their semester earlier than everybody else. They first arrived between 10 days and 2 weeks before the official term started, had a series of workshops and talks about the school, the university, institutional resources, etc, and met some professors. In subsequent evaluations, what they mentioned as positive wasn’t necessarily the content of these talks, but the fact that they were able to meet their peers, create a kind a supportive community before the semester started, and develop a kind of “ownership” over the campus. When the rest of the first-year cohort arrived, they were the “experts” about the campus, knew where things were and how they functioned. They described this as very positive and helpful for their adjustment.

    • Hey Akeem,

      Feel free to reach out if you want to interview or survey my students. I can put a call out if you need and see who is interested. I can also ask them to take a survey while we’re in class together, if that’s the route you go.

      Trends have shown that in general more females are graduating over males. I wonder if that applies to first gen students as well? Might be a layer worth looking at as you collect info.

      If you need my contact info, pm me (is that even possible on this site?)

  • My interest in the well-being of first-generation college students primarily stems from my own experiences, but also because of the many inequalities that continue to plague current first-generation college […]

    • And isn’t that amazing? a one-hour intervention?? Seems like every school would be jumping on this, low cost, high impact! How did your presentation go? Maybe someone in the class wants to model this at CUNY?

  • Article: School Funding: How a Broken System Deepens the School-to-Prison Pipeline


    This article pinpoints how America’s broken education system significantly contributes to the school to prison pipeline. […]

    • Did you see the recent NYT article on the PhD candidate whose Harvard offer was rescinded?

      I thought about this for days…particularly struck by the insensitive quotes from the faculty. Let’s discuss!

  • This article argues that contrary to popular belief, first-generation college students are not only failing in college only because of economic issues. Social and cultural factors also impact the likelihood of […]

    • Akeem,
      To counter your question with a question, have we as a society been addressing the needs of first-generation college students, period? I don’t think so. I think it has only entered the wide scope of many administrator’s perspectives in the last decade or so. I entered school at the beginning of the 2000s. I was/am first gen. I never in my 4 years there or in my 2 years at graduate school did I hear the term “first generation college student” in the classroom or outside of it. For frame of reference both were small private schools (one in a rural setting, one in a suburban setting).

      In a time where teachers/educators are constantly “pressured” to do more with less and teach to the test, how can they possibly attend to the needs of this population? Is it up to the administrators? Is this the unbundling of higher education that is needed to ensure students receive the services, opportunities, and support they may require? How does that translate to corporations and organizations that employ them? Do those employers now have a responsibility to try and emulate the support structure that these new employees are accustomed to?

      I don’t have answers but there certainly are a lot of questions to be asked and explored.


      • I think you both bring up great points and questions. But, no, higher education is ill equipped and ill prepared to address the non-financial and sociocultural and emotional needs of a population of students in a system not really built for them. (This is especially so in professional or graduate school.) Those that are still face challenges largely because focusing on financial needs is one of the easiest and biggest fixes to diversifying the college population and addressing the immediate needs of these students. It is also the cheapest. Once you start to address non-financial needs of the student beyond peer mentoring and communal pride/identity, the price per student grows exponentially.

        Side note: The book I was referencing in class but couldn’t recall the name was “A Hope in the Unseen.”