Research Project: The Struggles of First-Gen College Students

There has long since been immense difficulty for first-generation college students to attend and complete higher education. These students must forgo the application and education process with little to no assistance from family because they are the first person in their family to do so. This issue was discussed in one of the article choices for the SAR assignment, “I’m one of the first in my family to attend college. Here’s how I got there” by Ronnie Estoque.

While the application process is a massive hurdle for these students, completing their education on time is even more difficult. According to EAB, about 66% of regular students are on track to graduate after three years in college. Comparatively, only about 48% of first-generation students are on pace to graduate at the same point in their education. While the difference in these percentages may seem relatively small, they may reveal a difference of tens of thousands of students because of how large the college student population is. We must assist these students in completing the application process suitably and on time.

The number of struggles first-generation college students face is immeasurable and varies from person to person. Nevertheless, there is a multitude of trials that a large portion of these students face. The University of Southern California published an article discussing these struggles. One of the struggles examined is a “lack of knowledge of existing resources” (First-Gen & Common Struggles). Because these students don’t typically have easy access to information like scholarships and the benefits of higher education, they might believe college is unnecessary or unobtainable. The only way to combat this is to provide as much information about higher education as possible to these students. Another common struggle outlined by the USC article is immense self-doubt. Because these students are the first people in their family to attend college, they feel extensive pressure to succeed and quickly become overwhelmed. To combat this, peers and family members can use words of encouragement to show the student they are doing well. Although this may seem insignificant, it can go a long way.

Another vital struggle outlined in the article stems from parental hardship. In some instances, parents have a hard time letting their children go. Thus, they will try their hardest to keep their kids close to them, even if it means stifling their dreams of obtaining higher education. One way to combat this is to set boundaries with parents, ensuring that students have primary control over their futures. It is imperative for these parents to “realize that college is a time for self-growth and reflection” (First-Gen & Common Struggles). The final struggle discussed in the article details another struggle parents typically face. Because they must now deal with “changes in family structure, [navigation of] higher education, having trouble locating campus resources, and being involved in [their] child’s education” (First-Gen & Common Struggles), they too can become overwhelmed and feel helpless. The best way to assist parents in this situation is to provide them with a support group capable of assisting throughout the transition. As demonstrated in this article, both students and their parents fight through struggles when entering the realm of higher education for the first time. Luckily, organizations like Bottom Line and the First Generation Foundation are determined to assist first-generation college students and their families.

Looking at this issue through the lens of a former first-generation college student, it becomes even more explicit how prevalent these struggles are. Linda Banks-Santilli, a current associate professor of education, discusses her thoughts on the adversities of first-generation students in her article, “Living a double life.” Like the article by USC, Santilli mentions the hardship within a family that occurs in this situation. What’s interesting is she believes some students “come to develop two different identities – one for home and another for college” (Santilli). She suspects this stems from a disruption in the family dynamic, causing the child to feel alienated and lost. Because they have grown up living with a particular set of standards and way of life, this change brings about a significant “shift in identity” (Santilli) that some students are afraid to show to their family.

According to Santilli, the most lacked resource of first-generation college students is professional mentoring. Because a significant portion of these students come from low-income households, they are forced to work regular jobs and rely on federal aid and scholarships to pay for college instead of taking a professional internship. Furthermore, these students typically fill out their financial aid applications and often struggle due to a lack of knowledge of their family’s financial information. This, coupled with technologically challenged parents, prevents students in need from acquiring scholarships and aid that would enable them to take internships instead of menial jobs.

Possibly an even more significant challenge is that first-generation students typically lack the confidence to come forward and ask for assistance. The stigma of being a first-generation college student creates an environment in which these students’ “background is viewed as a deficit rather than a strength” (Santilli). This environment quickly stifles and suffocates students, pushing them to feel as though they have no support network. Furthermore, these students are typically discriminated against because of their racial and/or ethnic background. Because of these issues, it is understandable why first-generation students are scared to ask for help. Colleges must work harder to create an environment in which these students feel safe and comfortable for them to succeed. Santilli stresses this point in her article, stating that colleges must “redesign their institutional cultures, teaching practices, and academic support services to be more inclusive of first-generation college students” (Santilli). Furthermore, Santilli suggests that administrations hire more former first-generation college students as professors to create a proper support network for incoming first-generation students. It is extremely helpful for these students to have a resource in professors that have experienced the same hardships and succeeded. They are also living proof that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

This issue isn’t new, nor is it going away any time soon. In a society where a college education is becoming commonplace, we must provide all students with equal opportunities and resources to properly obtain an education and succeed in a college environment. Most of these students have poured their hearts into having a successful academic career; it is time for us to show them their work has paid off.


Work Cited

Banks-Santilli, Linda. “Struggles Many First-Generation College Students Face.”, 10 Feb. 2017,

Eab. “7 Fast Facts about Your First Generation Students.” EAB, 15 June 2020,

“First-Gen & Common Struggles > First Generation College Students at USC > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.” First Generation College Students at USC > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, USC Dornsife,

Research Project: Future of Digital Education

Research Project – English 1102

Name: – Pranav Chandiramani

Professor: – Dr. Rebecca Weaver

Date: – April 27, 2021


                The world has become an epitome of new inventions and change. When the worst ever Coronavirus pandemic hit the planet, a series of sudden changes had to be adopted by the whole world. The major change that affected the educational environment all over the world was the shift to the online mode of learning. This online learning method had begun to exist since this decade, but it was not in great use compared to attending classes in person. The main argument of this essay is to discuss the future of the online mode of learning. With the whole world implementing this method at present, the online mode of learning has some major advancements upcoming in the near future which may question the preexisting in-person or face-to-face method of learning. The Article “Pivot to Online: A Student Guide” by Sean Michael Morris relates to my area of discussion as it tells us more information about how the change from in-person to online learning happened and tries to prepare the students and teachers to adapt to the online method of learning for the years to come.

                When we talk about the future of digital education, the first thing that comes into the limelight is the word digital. The advancement in technology has been the greatest and the fastest in the history of humanity, the majority of students have access to devices such as laptops and smartphones to make their learning advanced. With this being stated, digital learning involves almost negligible in-person interaction among teachers and students. Digital systems have been already implemented into the whole educational ecosystem since computers have come into the affordable technology bracket. Every instant a wide variety of software enhancements are being implemented on computers all around the world and if we use it to form different techniques of approaching digital learning, then the future of digital learning is very radiant and compelling. George Veletsianos is Canada Research Chair of Innovative Learning and Technology and Associate Professor at Royal Roads University. George has also been developing online learning platforms since 2004. George in his book ‘Learning Online: The Student Experience’ states that “Recent researchers have identified artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and high-fidelity simulations as the technologies that seem most likely to have a future impact on online learning, which I imagine will soon be joined by a variety of other technologies that have not yet been developed.” (George Veletsianos. Learning Online: The Student Experience). This tells us that the future will be improved by inculcating these advanced technological achievements into digital learning which would have a great potential to engage students to opt for the online learning medium.

Another aspect of advancement in the future of digital learning is MOOCs known as Massive Online Open Courses. The MOOCs were introduced around the year 2008 and gained high momentum by 2012, these are free open courses accessible to anyone in the world with a computer and an internet connection and provided excellent classes taught by professors of highly credited universities like Harvard and Stanford. Since the concept of MOOCs, many individuals have taken classes on the platform and obtained certification which has helped them to advance their knowledge and career. The authors Patel and Fay of the book ‘Online Learning: An Educational Development Perspective’ encourage the ideology of implying that some technological advancement is beneficial to be put to use for teaching and learning. The authors mention that “Over the next decade, the shape of higher education globally will change irrevocably. A range of contemporary and innovative learning environments will mostly be superseded by the type of industrialized, online model of mass education imagined, especially at the undergraduate level.” (Patel, Fay. Online Learning: An Educational Development Perspective). The following statement provided by the author tells us that the MOOCs which are the online model of the mass educational environment have changed the way online learning was and has shaped a better future for it. The Major plus points which the online mode of learning has is that it reduces the cost for getting knowledge by a very high percentage and that it can be accessed by anyone in the world who wants to do it. Another advantage is that it may end up saving a lot of travel time for the students and teachers.

The flexibility provided by online learning makes it way more convenient to pursue than the traditional way of conducting classes. Students get to learn how to manage their time more efficiently with the flexible schedule of the digital learning method. For a person who is working part-time or full time, flexible schedules of online learning make it possible for them to learn and gain knowledge and help them to get advanced positions at their jobs or better jobs overall. The authors of this article ‘The future of online teaching and learning in higher education’ have research interests in online learning, MOOC’s and E-Learning and provide useful information in their article. Their article mentions “In addition, as bandwidth increases with the next-generation Internet technologies and capabilities, simulation and gaming tasks that online students engage in will be more realistic and authentic.” (Kim, Kyong-Jee, and Curtis J. Bonk. The future of online teaching and learning in higher education). The authors put forward the ideas of gamification and interactive learning, which can be a great boon in the future of online learning if these strategies are implemented. Gamification will be the ideology in which the students will be enabled to learn the content by playing interactive games developed by the new generation programming algorithms. With such strategies put in use, the future of online learning holds something very great for the time to come.

                One can conclude from this research that there is a luminous future for digital learning and that it may change the education system for the good. This research also stated how advanced technology and software would play a major role in uplifting digital learning and the way it will be beneficial for the student’s personalized learning experience.



Work Cited: –


George Veletsianos. Learning Online : The Student Experience. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020.,shib&db=nlebk&AN=2266286&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=gsu1&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_158


Patel, Fay. Online Learning: An Educational Development Perspective. Nova Science Publishers, Inc, 2014.,shib&db=nlebk&AN=801984&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=gsu1&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_161


Kim, Kyong-Jee, and Curtis J. Bonk. “The future of online teaching and learning in higher education.” Educause quarterly 29.4 (2006): 22-30. Groups/On-line Learning/Bonk (2006).pdf

Helping first Generation Students feel like they belong and provide them with resources to support them throughout college.

First generation students today are faced with academic, financial, and cultural challenges, even as a college education is ever more necessary for career achievement. The purpose of this research project is to not only investigate the challenges of first-generation students, but provide solutions, resources, and policies that protect and support them. In class, we were assigned to read, “Taking My Parents to College” by Jennine Capo Crucet. This author was a first generation student who shared their experience of their freshman of college. This article argument was there was a lack of support and resources for first generation students which can cause some students to quit school, take longer to graduate, or them to work harder than any other student. This was an eye opener to the reality of college experiences with first generation students. My father was a first-generation college student who struggled to stay afloat financially and academically which lead him to take longer to complete his degree. I want to learn more of the challenges of first-generation students and how to provide them with more resources for them to be successful in all aspects meaning financially, academically, and culturally.

Who are first generation students? First generation students can come from families with low incomes or from middle- or higher income families without a college-going tradition. There are different situations that create stops the college-going tradition. At times, some students are under family pressure to enter the work source right after high school. Some students do not know what their option are regarding higher education.  (College Board ) First generation students may miss the “hidden curriculum” of policies, procedures, and processes which can make navigating, belonging, and succeeding a challenge. (Felix )

 With the issue of unemployment rates increases, I believe that decreases or solving the challenges that first-generation students face by giving them support and resources. This can positively affect the economy by providing a higher educated individuals to get the more rigor jobs. This also makes it less likely for one to be low income by providing them with the education and possible connections to get a high paying job. For example, if a first-generation student attends Aurburn University and graduates in finance. Graduating from Auburn makes you apart of their alumni and this creates more opportunities in your career field.  My research paper should not only bring awareness to the challenges of being a first-generation student but give advice, support, and resources to bring financial, social, and academic relief.

Elliot Felix is the founder of the Brightspot strategy who help institutions improve the experience for students, faculty, researchers, employees, travelers, fans, and visitors alike. This article is providing five ways to better support first-generation students and an understanding of the first-generation student’s journeys. He uses statistics from The Center for First-Generation Success and National Center for Education Statistics to find the issues or challenges statistically to find solutions for. Also, he provides key resources as well as five things institutions can do to improve the student journey-based finding from Brightspot’s Student Experience Snapshot. The Snapspot is a online survey that provides a complementary way to understand the first generation student experience holistically and with enough details to inform institutions on how to improve.

“According to NASPA and the National Center for Education Statistics, compared to continuing generation students, first-generation student’s six-year graduation rate is 2.5x lower, their median parental income is 45% lower, their median hours of employment are 1.6x higher, and they are 24% less likely to use academic advising and are 23% less likely to academic support services.” (Felix) The author gives this statistic to make the reader aware of how first-generation students struggle to not support themselves financially but are not provided the academic advisement even if they are low income. These students lack the parental financial support as their parents have a lower income which should make them qualify for financial aid. A lower percentage of first-generation students made use of academic advising services, health services, and academic support services than continuing-generation students. “By focusing on belonging, service navigating, student projects, technology, and facilities, institutions can improve first- gen experience and outcomes like persistence and completion.” (Felix).

In Brightspot snapshot, first-generation students rated their experience significantly less positively than their continuing generation peers when it comes to “belonging to a group I identify with”. An example of creation cohorts and networks that build belonging and community for first generation students are Duke University’s LIFE( Low Income First-Generation Engagement) which creates and provides a community space, resources, and advocacy for students on Duke’s campus who identify as first generation and/ or low income. This helped increased the first-generation graduation rate from 41 percent in 2012 to 62 percent in 2018. (Felix)

 College Board is the nation’s largest college- going organization, helping millions of students navigate the transition from high school to college each year through programs like the SAT, AP, and BigFuture. On their website, there is an article on how to counsel first-generation students about college. This provides strategies on how to win scholarships, find the right colleges for you, organization who offer support, information on how college will be like,and get special help with college applications as they would be foreign to not only you but your family as well. In articles, it says that that first generation students have little exposure to the complex college planning process and have minimal knowledge of what education requirements are need for certain professions. First, this student would want to understand their interests and abilities and connect them to a career and higher education options. One can complete this task but conducting aptitude assessments, self-assessments, self-reflection, speaking to different individuals in different career paths, etc. This is important because this can ensure that the student not only want to pursue higher education but has the self-identity and awareness to seek out scholarships that fit their image of what they want to be. (CollegeBoard)

Also, this can build the student academically pushing them to take classes geared in their wanted major and strengthen their weaknesses. When discussing college options with these students, its is important to look at the different types of colleges to choose the one best suited for you. Encourage the student to visit colleges and take advantage of college fairs and information nights. Students’ preconceptions that they can not afford college can easily get full scholarships, grants and financial aid. Some colleges even seek out first-generation students to provide them with the opportunity to join their college free of charge.

It is very important  that students and families know not to pay anyone to help find scholarships, fill out the FAFSA or handle any other aspect of financial aid process.  Students should to informed about what college will be like . They can attend web seminars or youtube videos. Its important for them to know of the support systems on campus to use to their extent and that they are free through their tuition fees. Encourage them to seek out these on campus resources and programs.First generation student from families with low income may qualify for waivers of test fees and college application fees. Students should also apply for research programs for first-generation and other at-risk students such as AVID, CollegeED, Talent Search, Upward Bound, Urban League, and summer bridge programs. This would not only introduce students on how college works, job opportunities, and scholarships, but provide them with more resources to navigate college better. (CollegeBoard)

As a first generation student, Standlee provides advice on her to better first-generation college experience it ensure i runs as smoothly as possible. She uses her mistake and faults to provide multiple solutions to different scenarios. Building a mandatory introduction to college life or first-year experience element into the curriculum is very helpful to first-generation students ” I recommend that they consider the following: provide appropriate support, be transparent in the classroom, teach study skills, organize students into groups, develop personal relationships, engage parents, facilitate connections, fight invisibility, and keep an open mind. “(Standlee) 

In conclusion, first-generation college students can’t rely on advice from college-educated parents about navigating college life. They are usually not familiar with the details of college life, academic resources and social expectations, so they can need guidance( Standlee). Institutions can provide such support in the form of writing centers and tutoring centers, but it is essential to build those into the core curriculum to avoid stigmatizing first-gen students alone. Faculty members and advisers can play a huge role in the lives of all college students. For first-generation students, they may be the most significant connections that they will make when it comes to academic success. These faculty member and advisers can make major opportunities for them in their wanted career field  or even provide internships to improve the likelihood of getting a job straight out of college graduation.  College leaders and faculty members, including those who are first generation themselves, play a role in the development of policies and practices to help them deal with those challenges.


College Board. “First-Generation Students.” Education Professionals, 21 Feb. 2017,

Felix, Elliot. “How to Improve First-Gen Student Experience at Higher Ed Institutions.” Brightspot Strategy, 6 Apr. 2020,,lower%2C%20their%20median%20hours%20of.

Standlee , Alecea. “Inside Higher Ed.” Policies and Practices to Help First-Generation College Students Succeed (Opinion), 2019,

Crucet, J. C.  Taking My Parents to College. The New York Times, 2015, August 22