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Tips for Families of First Generation College Students

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Nearly one-third of all incoming freshmen each year are first generation college students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. A first generation college student is defined as a student coming from a family where neither of their parents or guardians have obtained a bachelor’s degree.

While being a first generation college student is a wonderful achievement, this group of students often faces challenges and obstacles their peers may not experience. For most first generation college students (FGCS), the opportunity to attend college is an honor and a privilege that their parents may not have had. These students need to know they are supported by their families, communities, and college administrators.

For families supporting their student(s), this is also a big transition. Some families may have a more challenging adjustment than others, especially if they had depended on their child caring for younger siblings, in a family business, or for additional income.

Here are some ways that families can help students:

  • If your student resides on campus, send a letter or care package for a nice surprise.
  • Become familiar with college resources and remind your student to take advantage of these resources.
  • Encourage your student to develop relationships with faculty and staff by visiting during their office hours or chatting with them after class.
  • Remind them that even though you might not be able to provide specific advice on how to navigate college or have the answer they need, you are always there to support and love them.
  • Know that pursuing higher education does not mean your student will lose the values with which they were raised.
  • Advise your student to ask for help when it is needed! They are not expected to know every answer and asking for help is a sign of strength.
  • Be patient with your student; this is a learning experience for everyone.
  • To be excited! College is a great adventure for both you and your student.
Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330

allenme@meredith.edu