Diversity: First-Generation College Students

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It is that time of the year where thousands of students are in their process of applying for colleges. But of course, many of these students will be applying to one of the top schools in this country, the University of Wisconsin- Madison. These students are from different areas of the country and also the world. In the fall of 2015, 29,580 of undergraduate students were enrolled at UW Madison (UW Madison Fact Sheet 15-16). As much as this school wants to express diversity on this campus, there is a group of students that are still in the shadows: first-generation college students.
First-generation college students, or FGCS, are students whose parents didn’t obtain a degree from a post-secondary school. Many assumed that all of the FGCS are
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This number differs from Horn & Nunez, but it is still a big percentage of the first-year population. Identifying who these students are is the first step to helping them with their college education. But why do they need this attention? Researchers demonstrated that FGCS have characteristics that may be a disadvantage compared to traditional students, such as being less academically prepared and more likely to drop out of school (Choy). Also a study showed that FGCS had “dissimilar expectations of college, poorer academic abilities, lack of social preparation, lack of self-esteem, and more financial constraints” (Petty). These characteristics greatly affects FGCS because they won’t be able to succeed like their peers. I believe colleges and universities need to help first-generation college students by providing more resources for their academic and their well-being on campus and also helping first-generation students in high …show more content…
Parents of FGCS may or may not support them in their time in college, but students don’t have the parental guidance that traditional students have (Orbe). Parents’ college experiences are what helps traditional students be more prepare for college. Unfortunately for FGCS, there is a guilt that is being carried “caused by a realization that family members did not have the same chance of attending college (i.e., that inequalities exist in society) and that family members were struggling at home while they experienced more privileges and pursued more opportunities in college” (Covarrubias & Fryberg). By having this guilt, FGCS struggle more to adjust to their new lives in college. Students feel that they have to live with two different cultures: their home culture and their academic culture (Jenkins). These cultures are different for the student that it is hard to balance both of them at the same time. FGCS will feel that they don’t belong at the school, making it difficult to concentrate on their education and well-being.
Another struggle that first-generation college students have to face in college is stress. Stressors that both FGCS and traditional students may include “adjusting to a college environment” and “general academic anxieties.” However, these “typical stressors may be more severe to first generation students” (Jenkins et al.). This stress doesn’t allow the student to feel

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