For First Generation. ETSU is full of them, and helping them succeed is a challenge. From The Atlantic.
When Ivan Delgado first considered going to college, he had little to go on. “I don't know anybody in my neighborhood who’s gone to college, nobody in my family,” he says. A high school advisor changed Ivan’s prospects by connecting him with scholarships at Texas A&M University. A quarter of A&M’s undergraduates—and nearly a third nationwide—are the first in their families to attend college. Ivan is now one of them.
Collectively they’re known as first-generation students, Gen-F for short. Most are from low-income families and disadvantaged communities in the U.S. and abroad. Their decision to continue their education is courageous in itself, since many are from families that can hardly scrape together the costs of applying, let alone the prohibitive cost of attending. Add to that the wages the family loses during their students’ college years, and the prospect can be overwhelming.
“When you have a part-time job and you’re under family pressure to make money, why would you want to go to college?” says Anita Willis, media coordinator for America Needs You, a New York-area nonprofit that works to move Gen-F students toward academic and professional success. Only 57 percent of low-income high school graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college in 2014.
As hard as it is for many of these students to find their way to college campuses, they soon learn that leaving with a diploma is even harder. Low-income students are often behind academically, which means doing remedial courses before those that count toward a degree. Adding to that frustration are the social challenges involved in the transition from a low-income community to a college campus. These and other issues lead nearly 90 percent of Gen-F students to drop out.
Doing that leaves them with dim prospects. The unemployment rate among high school graduates is nearly triple that of college graduates. When those who drop out or never attend college find jobs, they will earn salaries far below their colleagues with degrees, who will make 80 percent more in lifetime income. On the other hand, the 10 percent of Gen-F students who finish college tend to flourish, becoming socially conscious contributors to their campuses and their future communities.