For many first-generation college students, attending a university or college presents a very large financial barrier for them and their family. However, it is not the only barrier they face in obtaining a college degree. In fact, first-generation college students that are able to enter college without having to take out loans face issues of assimilating to college culture, as illustrated in a recent Washington Post article.
College culture means having the social skills and emotional capacities/support necessary in order to take advantage of the resources available at college. Students that are the first in their families to attend college are often unable to take advantage of opportunities to acquaint themselves with the academic structure of higher education; at times they feel the weight and responsibility for earning an income in order to assist their families. Ultimately, these social and emotional barrier lead a substantial number of first-generation college students to drop out each year, despite their hard work and academic abilities.
At the Elmezzi Foundation, we are well aware of the numerous obstacles first-generation students have to face in order to just attend and obtain a college degree. That is why when we began funding for the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – New York Ravenswood II program we built in a strategy to have the program directors dedicate significant time to helping first generation students surpass barriers to their higher education.
This means that the program directors are assisting with everything from helping Dreamers with their financial literacy and scholarship opportunities, holding regular check ins to talk about difficulties they’re facing, and monitoring their progression through classes. In this way, all of the Dreamers that worked diligently to be able to receive funding for their college tuition from the Ravenswood II program are also supported by additional means so that they can continue to work hard and do their best.
Click here to read further about the types of barriers that first-generation college students face, as well as the measures that some proactive institutions are taking.