The holidays and our first-gen students

Most first-generation college students will be spending part of their holidays explaining what they’re doing in college.

Not just explaining what kinds of work they’re doing in college, but sometimes explaining what the heck they think they’re doing, going to college.

First-generation students are living a life the rest of the family might support but not understand, and students may carry some guilt about being in a privileged position relative to their parents or siblings.  Keep in mind that not all students are excited about the holiday break, and not all will be able to explain to you what they might be worried about.  Here’s an article from Wheelock College’s Linda Banks-Santilli about what our first-gen students might be experiencing and how we can help.

(hat-tip to Colby King for this post)


Higher education, with its unique culture, language and history, can be difficult for first-generation college students to understand. Students whose parents have attended college benefit from their parents’ experiences. They come through the door understanding what a syllabus is, why the requirement for liberal arts courses exists and how to establish relationships with faculty. They can call their parents to ask for help on a paper or to ask questions about a citation method. They can discuss a classic novel they have both read.


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