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.

Nicole Berry: Academic Profile

        This is a glimpse of Nicole Berry’s academic self. I had the chance to interview and explore more in detail what this meant for her. Questions about how she has gotten to where she is now, and what makes her unique in her way as a student. Nicole is a first-generation student who graduated from Henry Grady High School in 2020 and currently majoring in Nursing at Georgia State Perimeter College. She later is planning on transferring off to the Georgia State University downtown location. These are the more general details about her, but Nicole is so much more than just you’re your typical “college student.” She is enthusiastic about her lifelong goals in her academic career. 

            While attending high school, Nicole was eager to reach out for more opportunities. She has a curious mind and a yearning to learn more. She explained to me that at the time there weren’t many resources to reach out to. She did what she could and searched for these resources herself. Nicole found an awesome summer volunteering opportunity at her local hospital. This gave her a path to a whole new environment and got her hands-on tools that could later help in college. She also got access to mentors at this hospital. After graduating high school, she enrolled at Georgia State. She told me, “College isn’t much different from high school, when I came to Perimeter I didn’t know that what we are doing here would be similar to doing work in high school”. I saw that as a sign of confidence. I believe it is because of the opportunities she had during high school.

            As both Nicole and I continued to communicate. Three primary words clearly expressed her academic self as hard-working, motivated, and inspired to make changes in the world. She is very eager about learning new things. Nicole works a lot both in and outside of school. She dedicates a lot of time out of her day to focus on schoolwork and being a student. While at the same time having to also work on the side. We went into talking about how she also takes care of someone who has a disability. She takes her time to communicate, listen, cook, and clean for them. She is certain that having an education can help provide better care for the people around her.  She mentioned that at the beginning of this semester that she ran into some issues regarding her schedule but managed to balance it all at the end of the day. I got to ask Nicole about where exactly her motivation originates from. She told me “I’m motivated to work to learn”, this is especially true for all of us as students but for her, it means she can impact the community around her. Another motivation for her is her family. She strives to make them proud. Inspiration is also one major component of Nicole’s academic self. She has had a vision since the age of nine. While at a doctor’s appointment for a family member who needed to get their tonsils removed. She knew it was meant for her from a very young age and has stuck with it since. Almost like a promise to herself. Just the fact that she does all this proves a very strong person. 

            While being as motivated and hardworking as Nicole. We all still run into small inconveniences. Nicole had said to me that she had closely related to the video on “How to get the most out of studying” video series specifically “Developing a Mindset for Successful Learning” with Dr. Stephen Chew. Her approach towards this specific video is that she is trying to get more effective with picking up information while studying. Not just skimming through unnecessary information. It is something she is personally trying to improve and continue to work on. She makes the most out of what she has and uses it wisely. 

           This interview allowed me to reach out and learn more about a person who works very hard. Even though Nicole has a very occupied schedule she still manages to make the most out of it. She is very inspiring as a person and as a student. She wants only the best for herself. I am super hopeful that her academic approach will lead her to become a great Nurse!