Being a first-generation college student was an experience, for me even though I didn’t end up graduating. I have no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed about not completing my education, as I’m fully aware that many others have faced the situation.
Statistics show that out of every 10 income first-generation college students, only one is projected to earn a degree within a six-year timeframe.
As enrollment rates are down across the nation, colleges are prepping to market heavily to make up for their financial losses. Now is perfect for discussing how to increase the retention and graduation rates for first-gen students.
I could give you a lot of data and research that is meant to convince you that we need to change our approach to how we engage with first-gen students but won’t get the job done.
As a student, I’d like to share some experiences that shed light on the challenges many students face on college campuses.
When asked why didn’t I graduate from college? I used to have a plethora of answers “My financial aid fell through,” “I didn’t pick the right major.” The truth was far simpler than that; I didn’t graduate college because I was Unprepared, Unprivileged, and Overwhelmed.
When I use the term “” I intend to convey that I lacked readiness in all aspects; financially, socially and mentally. My life, up until that point, had provided no preparation for the challenges of being a college student.
The education I received in school failed to equip me for the demanding academic requirements of college. Growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia was not great prep work for the social and cultural shock of being a black kid at an PWI.