The video highlights some of the challenges first generation students face from the perspective of counselors and support staff. Links to videos in which first generation student share their unique challenges are also provided in this lesson. However, I chose to embed this video in the lesson because it reflects issues that I, as the first in my family to attend and graduate from college, experienced. Now, as college admissions counselors, my wife and I experience the complete range of issues and emotions surrounding the journey of first generation students. We have worked with first generation students who chose to attend school within driving distance of their home at Francis Marion University, and worked with first generation students who are attending college on full scholarships at such schools as Williams College and Northeastern University. However, discovering the pathway to the right college and to the right scholarship will require thoughtful research.

Lesson 1: Identify the right colleges. Identifying colleges with support programs for first generation students can greatly assist in the transition into college. Select from the following videos and articles to expand your understanding of the challenges faced by first generation students and support programs offered.

  • Review: I’m First website:http://www.imfirst.org/
  • Review: Colleges that formerly support first generation students:http://www.imfirst.org/colleges/ are oftentimes among the most generous in their financial aid policies. One of our first generation students, a second-year, at Williams College, has yet to incur any expenses whatsoever. Williams has provided scholarships and grants for books, travel, healthcare, and a full scholarship for tuition, room, board, and fees. Williams also hosts an all-expenses paid weekend for first generation students and a parent prior to enrollment.
  • Research: Identify if any of the colleges and universities on your list offer support programs for first generation students, then summarize each program’s support.
  • Research: Expand your college list by performing an Internet search on the following phrases:
    • “colleges with programs for first generation students”
    • “programs for first generation college students”
    • “academic support for first generation students”
    • “first to go academic support”
    • “colleges with best support programs for first generation students”
    • “top colleges for first generation students”

Lesson 2: Understand and prepare for the unique challenges. There is no single first generation college challenge. The challenges are as diverse as first generation students. Review the articles and videos to define your story and your pathway.