As a college education becomes more financially feasible and socially expected for a greater portion of the population, historically disadvantaged students and those from working class families are entering colleges and universities at a higher rate than prior decades. Though school officials offer varying definitions of what it means to be a first-generation student, many agree that first-generation students tend to feel unprepared and under-supported for the many challenges that college entails. As such, universities, such as our own, are starting to implement more programs specifically designed to recruit, support, and retain first-generation students, by building community, offering practical studying and time management advice, and helping students stay on track with their academic and personal goals.
Admittedly, my alma mater did not have a LUSSI (Lehigh University Summer Scholars Institute) program, as Lehigh students do. In fact, I was not aware that such programs existed, much less that I might have benefited from knowing that I was not alone, as I struggled to not only adapt to college, but also, to learn the inner mechanisms of higher education that other students seemed to anticipate. Although it sounds unfathomable to me now, it wasn’t really that I started applying for graduate schools and researching stipends that I realized what being a first-generation student actually meant to me. Read More