Latino First-Generation College Students

Graciela Rivas Araujo

English 1102-Section 3030-Weaver

Major Project 4: Research Paper                                                                                       

April 27, 2021



Latino first-generation college students constantly go through conflicts and barriers to pursue post-secondary education and collectivist behavior demands within the Latino community. Access to opportunities is still challenging to reach out to for most of these students and communities. Latino first-generation students make up the minorities in most colleges, yet it is still twice as hard as for opportunities compared to their White non-first-generation peers. This research will gather information and gain a perspective from the unfamiliarity of lack of access while applying to college and the emotions that many of these students experience through post-secondary education.


In the article “Culture and Community: Perspectives from First-Year, First-Generation-in-College Latino Students”, the authors said, “ Latino students face many college access issues, and they are typically less academically prepared for college than other groups.” (Clayton, Ashley B., Medina, Mary C., Wiseman, Angela M.,) This quote shows that the process of applying for college isn’t as easy for many. The transition from high school to college takes a lot of work and dedication to pursue the things these students’ families are not familiar with. There have been issues such as the financial assistance application process. In the article of Culture and Community, authors quoted, “ The nature and quality of college assistance can vary greatly across high schools, leaving some students with less support to pursue post-secondary education.” ( Martinez & Deil-Amen, 2015; Perna et al., 2008). Latino first-generation students typically come from a background where education and college are a priority. Still, generally, these students don’t have the needed help both at home and in school. The absence of aid can cause many not even to try to apply for school. This application process in itself is pretty complicated for most students. Even so, many do still overcome these barriers. 

In Latino homes, family is an essential aspect of life. Most of the time, parents and families express emotional detachment and are clueless about their kids attending college. In the article, “‘Why Not Me?’ College Enrollment and Persistence of High-Achieving First-Generation Latino College Students” the author stated, “Parents may have concerns related to their children leaving their homes, paying for college, the need to attend college full-time, and the admissions process.”(Vega, Desireé). Families of first-generation typically don’t have access to the resources needed to understand better how and why things happen in the transition to college. Latino first-generation students also carry guilt and loneliness for letting go of family values to continue their education. The pressure to continue to receive education and work for it often conflicts with giving the family the title. “Latino youth from immigrant families want to repay their parents by doing well in school. Therefore, these students are caught between two conflicting definitions of family obligation: aiding the family directly and aiding the family in a long-term sense by doing well in school.” (Vasquez-Salgado, Yolanda). Degrees in Latino homes usually mean a degree for mom and dad and whoever else is involved. It is challenging to balance it and an issue that many don’t shine a light on.

Guilt and loneliness lead to the issue of mental health in college while being a first-generation Latino student. Many college students do suffer greatly from mental health issues. Still, it is known that students who identify as “first-generation” have struggled more with the transition to college, having a social life, and dealing with the concept of family values. Also, in the article: “The Impact of Family and Friends Social Support on Latino/a First-Generation College Students’ Perceived Stress, Depression, and Social Isolation.” the authors of this article quoted, “First-generation college students are particularly susceptible to depression as a result of academic and financial responsibilities, feelings of isolation in an unfamiliar university community, and the lack of supportive environment from family members.” (Darling,1999; Dennis et al., 2005; Wan, 2016). This article shines a light on the many health concepts that many colleges don’t typically touch on. There are always opportunities for counseling in colleges, except for students with cultural backgrounds, especially first-generation students, who fear reaching out or not knowing where to go or whom exactly to talk to.  First-generation Latino students go through this fairly often in their journey to college and have to do with other underlying problems.


While researching this topic,  it is clear that obstacles often appear for many. It can be challenging to understand that students from immigrant families and cultural backgrounds have struggles that many do not realize. This is especially true for first-year-first-generation college students. It is crucial to put forth more opportunities and easier access to resources that can be useful for students and their families. With rising numbers of successful and devoted students, it has been proven possible! Many have already proved to their communities and families that it can be done no matter the struggle. College students all struggle the same but acknowledging that some “struggle” a little more can improve the number of resources that the educational system places on its students.

Works Cited Page

Clayton, Ashley B., Medina, Mary C., Wiseman, Angela M., “Culture and Community: Perspectives from First-Year, First-Generation-in-College Latino Students.” Journal of Latinos & Education, vol. 18, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 134–150. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15348431.2017.1386101.

Vega, Desireé. “‘Why Not Me?’ College Enrollment and Persistence of High-Achieving First-Generation Latino College Students.” School Psychology Forum, vol. 10, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 307–320. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=eue&AN=121047769&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Vasquez-Salgado, Yolanda, Greenfield, Patricia M., Burgos-Cienfuegos, Rocio, “Exploring Home-School Value Conflicts: Implications for Academic Achievement and Well-Being Among Latino First-Generation College Students.” Journal of Adolescent Research, vol. 30, no. 3, May 2015, pp. 271–305. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/0743558414561297.

Suwinyattichaiporn, Tara, and Zac D. Johnson. “The Impact of Family and Friends Social Support on Latino/a First-Generation College Students’ Perceived Stress, Depression, and Social Isolation.” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Oct. 2020, p. 1. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/1538192720964922.

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