Today we have the highest number of students who attend college. All of these students are pursuing their dreams of getting a better future with an education while each and every one of them went through different levels of difficulties just to graduate. These difficulties range from not having a safe home to live in to not knowing what career to pursue. As a college student right now I can see the fall backs I have and how others have it a lot easier than I do.
This can be said for every college student. But one thing college students don’t realize is the students who have it harder than we do. Right now the group of ndividuals that have the most difficulty graduating are first- generation college students who make up approximately twenty percent of college students (Banks-Santilli, 1). However, this statistic can be a lot larger except for the reason that many student aren’t aware that they fall under the category of a first- generation college student.
While first generation college students have the most difficulty graduating over any other college student, I believe enrolling every first-generation student into a mentoring program would be very beneficial in helping each individual reach their goal of graduating from college with ess of a hard time. There are so many different definitions all over the internet of what a first-generation college students is. Students have a misconception that because they aren’t immigrants, they don’t fall into this category.
To be considered a first-generation college student, you are the first person in the immediate family to attend college, your parents highest level of education is a high school diploma or equivalent or less,. What surprises most people is that they don’t need to come from a low-income household but can just as easily come from a middle- or higher- income family. First-generation college students find it difficult to attend school and work often leading them to drop out.
According to Linda Banks-Santilli, an associate professor of education at Wheelock College, “About 50 percent of all first-generation college students in the U. S. are low-income. These students are also more likely to be a member of a racial or ethnic minority group. ” Not only must they face the challenges of being a first- generation student but being a low-income student as well provides a more challenging educational experience. Students in this situation would not only have to worry about their school ork but they are more than likely going to worry about financial issues as well.
Concerns may include having to pay for their various classes, school textbooks, or any other necessities. Student are having to work part-time job and in some cases they are working a full-time job while still being a full time student. In Liz Riggs article, “First-Generation College-Goers: Unprepared and Behind” it states how a student has to work thirty to forty hours per week while taking a full class schedule due to the high prices for classes and choosing to stay at home to live due to increasing housing prices.
Some student choose to ot have a part-time jobs only so that they can work full-time. This often leads to students dropping out of college because they question the necessity of attending school and obtaining an education if they can be making money with the jobs they hold at the moment. Others want to continue on with their education but get frustrated by the fact they feel like they have been in school forever and are still not close to graduating due to them only taking a few classes per semester.
The frustration of feeling like they are not moving forward with their education as well leads student to dropping out. Sixty-nine percent of hese students (Banks-Santilli 2) feel a sense of guilt for going to to school and not working to help their families by making money and not contributing to the household bills. Proof of the large amount of dropouts can be seen by the percent of first- generation students who graduate. Statistics demonstrate that fifty four percent of first-generation students graduate which is fifteen percent lower than the overall graduation rate (Riggs, 4).
This means that forty six percent of students that start school don’t finish end up finishing their education. As difficult as financial issues can be for a college student I elieve that one of most difficult parts of being a first- generation college student is that they are exposed in college. Dwight Lang, professor at University of Michigan, wrote the article “Singing the First Generation Blues” where he mentioned the “first-gen blues. ” Lang wrote how first-generation hear, “fellow students tell stories over dinner about trips to Europe or Asia before high-school graduation. Lang also mentions how some students ask, “what’s FAFSA,” and is able to make first- generation students feel bad about themselves by stating how they were raised with a “loving, supportive family- amounted to othing. ” Imagine how difficult it is for a student to hear the life of others and compare it to their own. This makes them sad about their past reminding them how hard it’s been for them to reach this far. That for them it isn’t just a choice to go to college but a way out for them and their family to get out of their lower socioeconomic status.
Lang as well talks about how this, “strength [students to] take risks, persist,” in their education. I think this help remind them how others have it easier and how some have it more difficult than others but at the end of the day hey are all in college with the same goal to graduate. I remember when I joined student government, we did a training exercise to show how some students have it easier than others. We all lined up, shoulder to shoulder in a straight line and then we were asked a various amount of questions.
In order to answer each question we would either take a step forward or backward, depending on the question. For example, they would ask if we ever had to skip a meal because there wasn’t enough money for food growing up, take two steps back. Or if for every parent we had with college diploma, take one step forward. At the end of the exercise we had to look around and see how everyone had a different start in our education. I was told “Look around you and see where you are standing. this is a reminder of the difficulties and the easiness of other and never forget that even though your pasts have been different.
You are all equal right now so don’t look down on anyone and don’t look up to anyone more. ” One of the biggest difficulties a first-generation college students will face will be themselves. The amount of guilt a student can bring to himself for attending college can and will be overwhelming for them. For most first-generation students, college is their gateway for a better life. Not just for them but as well for their families. In matter of fact, studies show that “Sixty-nine percent” of them attend college in order to help their families (Banks-Santilli 2).
Wanting to help their families, brings guilt to them when seeing their family working hard in order to make a living, while they choose to attend school. Yeah they know it’s for the best in the long run but they still feel the need to help them at the moment. It make them question why they are even going to school if they can help their families at the oment with a job. Another form of guilt they feel is the thought of them, “bringing honor to their families. ” They see themselves as the person that needs to accomplish what their parents weren’t able to.
You can see this with the quote, “And while their [parents] often view them as their savior, delegate, or a way out of poverty and less desirable living conditions” (Banks-Santilli 2). The guilt they feel with this, is the guilt of choosing their education over their families. For students to be able to reach their goal of graduating from college, they have to spend hours n their studies resulting in having little to no time for their families. In some cases they must even leave home to go miles away to live on campus of the school they attend which leads to being even more apart from them.
In Tanjula Petty’s article, she writes about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In the hierarchy we can find a way to assist all first- generation college students to be able to reach their goal of graduating from college. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is made up of five levels. The five levels are physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. The needs are set up in a manner where your physiological needs are your most basic and demanding needs. The best way to understand them is to think of them as a pyramid. Each level makes up a row in a pyramid.
With physiological needs being the base and self-actualization being at the top. In order to make this pyramid you need to work your way up one level at a time. The first level is your physiological needs, which are the basic needs of an individual. These needs consist of air, water, food, sex and shelter. Once you have these needs in your life you can move onto the next level of the pyramid which are your afety needs. Safety needs is the feeling of being safe. After you have this you can move on to social needs which is having the sense of being loved and belonging.
As you move up you then have esteem needs which are inclusive of attention, confidence, freedom, independence, recognition and self-respect. Lastly is self-actualization, in which a person comes in terms with their fullest potential, and you have reached the top of the pyramid. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the key to helping first- generation college students graduate. A mentoring program can help guide these student reach each goal needed to graduate. Colleges can have upperclassmen mentors as well as lower classmate that are first-generation students themselves.
They would be capable of showing incoming freshman the resources they need to be successful and the resources they have available to them at the institution which they attend. They can share their experiences and the mistakes they made in the year in order to show freshman a better path to follow. The mentors can have Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to help guide them and help themselves reach selfactualization. The mentors won’t just be there to help with academics but as well as someone to talk about their problems with.
Having someone to reach out to can help students tremendously in their school work and social lives. Whether it be tutoring they need or some motivation to keep them in school when they feel like they aren’t going anywhere with school. The mentors will be there to remind student that they are slowly but surely reaching their goal of graduating. They not only would be their to encourage students but would also be example that they went through the similar problems one may be facing and they are still putting their best effort in continuing school.
Firstgeneration college students may have the hardest time getting through school. While some of them working so hard to reach where they are and others having it a bit easier. Some letting their problems bring them down and others using it to push their drive and motivation. But as hard as it is for a firstgeneration to go to college, mentoring would be able to provide student with help resulting in getting through college easier and making students less likely to drop out.