First-Generation College Students


Kaleb Lynum

Public Speaking





        It’s already hard going into a new environment like college and having to get acclimated to it at a fast pace. So it takes time for average college students to adjust, but it’s even more complicated for first-generation college students. There’s no surprise that first-generation college students are at a disadvantage when it comes to college. In a class reading by Jennine Capó Crucet, she goes into detail about the struggles that first-generation college students face and what should be done about it. It’s a massive issue because it makes adjusting and being successful in college much harder than it already is. I’m going to discuss the struggles that first-generation students face and how the colleges/universities and their families can make it easier for them to succeed. 




        If you aren’t familiar with the term first-generation college student or don’t know what they are, then let me help you understand better. A first-generation college student is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a college student who neither one of their parents completed four years at a college or university. Even if their siblings completed four years at a college of university, they are still considered a first-generation college student. So they are going to be the first generation in their family to complete four years of college. 

        Before we get into detail about those struggles that first-generation students face, let’s talk about why they struggle. See these students are going in completely blind when they first attend college. They aren’t like the average college student, whose parents have taken that journey before. The parents of students usually give out tips, advice, warnings, basically whatever they can do to make their child’s journey easier. Because their parents haven’t graduated, they don’t know what their kids should expect. Both the parents and the student have no idea about what’s going to happen at college. 

        Now let’s talk about the struggles that first-generation college students face. In the article Taking My Parents to College by Jennine Capó Crucet, she points out some personal struggles that she faced. She was unaware of even the common things that all college students should know. She and her parents didn’t know how long her parents were supposed to stay for orientation. Her parents actually booked a hotel and used their vacation days to stay for a couple of days (Crucet, 2015). Another common thing that she was unaware of was the supplies that she needed. She didn’t know that she needed to purchase “shower shoes, extra-long twin sheets, mesh laundry bags” (Crucet, 2015).  She also struggled with her school work and she couldn’t really ask for help from her family because they didn’t know how to do it. This just shows these students struggle with the simple things, so imagine how they struggle with the major things.


        There are definitely some more major struggles that first-generation college students face. Financial support is a very big struggle for almost all college students but it can be even worse for first-generation students. Their parents probably won’t know of the resources that they could use to make college more affordable. Resources like scholarships, grants, programs that help first-generation students, etc. Another struggle that many of these students deal with is guilt. Sometimes they feel guilty when they leave their family and go off to college or even feel guilty or embarrassed to ask for help (Homol, 2016). Fitting is also a major struggle that many of these students go through. Most of these students probably haven’t ever been far away from their family so it’s going to take some time to adjust. Fitting and finding friends definitely helps the transition easier. 

        There are a good amount of struggles that make college very challenging for first-generation college students. There are a few things that colleges/universities can do to help them succeed. Something that Jennine Capó Crucet said in her article was that she believes that colleges/universities should implement mandatory meetings for first-generation college students. This seems like a great idea that will only help benefit these students. The meetings would probably be geared toward informing students about the simple things like what supplies they need. It should also include information for the parents so they can help support their children. Support from home is something that is very beneficial to them (Greenthal, 2021). These colleges/universities could also try to give these students more attention or have their guidance counselors check up on them more often.

        There are also some things that the family of these students can do to help them succeed. I stated earlier that support from the home is very beneficial, but since the parents never graduated from college they don’t know how to support them. Having the colleges/universities provide information for the parents so they can help support the students is a great idea. It shouldn’t be solely on the colleges/universities to help inform the parents. The parents have to use the resources and research for themselves. They google at their fingertips and can research literally anything that they need to know. They can find scholarship information, tutors, a list of supplies that the kids will need, and so much more. The parents have to be able to help their children whenever they need it. 

        In conclusion, it’s already difficult to adjust to the college lifestyle, but it’s even more difficult for first-generation college students to adjust. They’re at such a disadvantage because their parents don’t have the knowledge that the average college student parent has about college. Parents of incoming college students usually give out advice and tips so their child will be more successful in college. The parents of first-generation college students may not have any advice or tips for them because they never had the experience. They struggle with simple things like how long is orientation or what supplies do they need or help with their school work. They definitely struggled with harder stuff such as financial support, guilt, and fitting. Even though they have to face all of these struggles, there are still ways to make their lives a little easier. The colleges/universities should have mandatory meetings for them to inform about stuff that they need to know about. The students’ parents should also educate themselves about college so they can support their children. Hopefully these things make the students’ lives easier and allows them to become very successful. 


Works Cited


Greenthal, Sharon. ‘’5 Big Challenges for First Generation College Students”. Verywellfamily. 4         Feb. 2021 


Homol, Caitlyn James, and David J Johns. “5 Things You Can Do to Support First-Generation         College Students.” Education Post, 20 July 2016


Markle, Gail;Stelzriede Danelle Dyckhoff, et al. “Comparing First-Generation Students to         Continuing-Generation Students and the Impact of a First-Generation Learning             Community.” Innovative Higher Education., vol. 45, no. 4, Kluwer                 Academic-Plenum-Human Sciences Press, 2020, pp. 285–98,                     doi:10.1007/s10755-020-09502-0.


Reid, M Jeanne;Moore, James L, III, et al. “College Readiness and Academic Preparation for         Postsecondary Education.” Urban Education., vol. 43, no. 2, Sage Publications, 2008, pp.     240–61, doi:10.1177/0042085907312346.


Academic Profile on Rijo Lake

Hello professor and fellow classmates,

      My task was to interview Solanlly Rijo Lake and learn more about her. I was to try and really get to know her true academic self. We had a zoom meeting on January 30, 2021 to introduce ourselves and get to really know each other. Then we had a second zoom meeting the following day to really discuss our academic selves. 

      My classmate who I had the honor of interviewing is actually from the Dominican Republic and has lived there her whole life. She attended Las Palmas Christian School from kindergarten through high school (Lake, 2021). She was very involved with different aspects of her school. She was a member of her high school volleyball team and she was student government president of her senior class. Something that was really interesting to me was that she was in the cyber security program at her school. 

      She was considered a scholar growing up, making sure to have her work done nice and on time. She’s also an overthinker which is good and bad. She will go out of her way to make sure that her assignment is done to the very best of her ability. She was named the valedictorian of her graduating class of 2020. After graduating high school, she decided to go straight to college and wanted to attend GSU. For some reason she wasn’t able to, so she decided to attend a college in the Dominican Republic so she wouldn’t be behind in her studies. She eventually got cleared and enrolled as a first year freshman at GSU in the Fall 2020 semester and left the other college. 

      Her major is in computer science, because she’s really into technology. When I asked her what her plans were for after college she told me something really impressive. Her response was “I wanted to get my masters in cyber security and start her own company. But my bigger picture includes advancing technology in the Dominican Republic. I feel that my country is too far behind other countries and I want that to change” (Lake, 2021). I personally feel that she could really do some marvelous things in the technological world. Usually when you’re talking about technology, you mention America and China, but she’s going to make it so they have to include the Dominican Republic in that conversation. 

      There was an essay from“Bad Ideas About Writing” that really stood out to her. It was titled “SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST BORN GOOD WRITERS” by Jill Parrott. She said “It completely changed my mindset about writing because I thought of writing as just a born quality and I never wanted to write cause I wanted to be perfect” (Lake, 2021). A lot of people think that people are born good writers and it’s just not true. Bad Ideas About Writing has a bunch of wonderful ideas that people think are true but aren’t. It’s just so informative and provides us so much knowledge about writing in general. 

      Just like every human being in this world, she has some academic bad habits. It’s very rare, but every once in a while she procrastinates and put things off just a little bit. She said “that even though I procrastinate, I make sure to get my assignments done on time” (Lake, 2021). Time management is a bit of an adjust because she’s used to hanging out with her friends and having fun. She’s had to adjust her social life in order to make her time management better. 

      Because we’re in an online class, we don’t really get to know our classmates. It was really cool getting to know Solanlly Rijo Lake and learn about her academic life. She was the valedictorian of her senior class and is really interested in technology specifically cyber security. She’s a very smart individual from the Dominican Republic who’s going to be very successful in her future. She’s going to change the world and advance her country technologically. Her profile leaves me with one question: what’s something that we can do to improve our country whether it’s technology, science, sports, etc.


  • Lake, Rio. Interview. Conducted by Kaleb Lynum, 30-31 January 2021
  • Parrot, Jill. SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST BORN GOOD WRITERS. BAD IDEAS ABOUT WRITING. Edited by Cheryl E. Ball & Drew M. Loewe. 2017.