#FirstGenerationChat Shares Resources For One Third of College Students

By: R.D. Leyva

First-generation college students are those whose parents did not attain post-secondary schooling . According to the U.S. Department of Education, this includes about 33.5% of the student population. As the first person in their family to attend college, these students face unique challenges and deserve more support navigating this complex ecosystem.

To bring attention to this issue, the ACT Center for Equity and Learning hosted a twitter chat with students, youth-serving organizations, and education leaders. The discussion addressed various topics including resources, pain points and words of advice. Participants started the conversation with introductions before sharing their insights around which supports matter most for first-generation students.

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The conversation quickly kicked off with a question around misconceptions we hear about first-generation students. While a few themes emerged, several participants touched on the common misconception that most first-generation students come from low-income communities.

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Our hosts also addressed this issue and reminded us first-generation students account for 1.5 million students.

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Once a few misconceptions were addressed, the focus of the conversation turned to the unique challenges first-generation students face. For many, it is difficult to navigate the college experience without family members or mentors who can help. Additionally, financial aid and scholarship resources may not be evident to someone who is the first in their family going through this process. While these are a few of the challenges faced by first-generation students, the bottom line is many first-generation students just don’t know what they don’t know.

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While these challenges are daunting, there is more we can do to support first-generation students. During this discussion, participants discussed ways colleges can better support first-generation students and suggested integrating more systems to support first-generation students of color by honoring their experiences and identities.

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And finally, the conversation ended with shout-outs to first champions as well as resources and advice for first-generation students.

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If you are interested in joining future conversations on twitter, we encourage you to tweet at us to let us know. You can find us at @Latinos4Ed on Twitter. And while you are at it, follow our Facebook and LinkedIn pages to stay updated on news and opportunities for Latino education leaders across the country.

R.D. serves as the Program Director at L4E. He leads the talent work to connect L4E members to high-impact roles, professional development opportunities and other Latino leaders across the country. He lives in Washington, DC.