More than half of today’s college students are first-generation, and some of the country’s most populous states just so happen to have the highest concentration of such learners. However, first-generation students are prone to fall behind in higher education and beyond, which has prompted colleges, universities and related organizations to recognize their struggles—and alleviate them.
On Wednesday, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Center for First-Generation Student Success is hosting a live broadcast to celebrate their achievements, despite the odds. Those odds can seem quite pronounced in two areas specifically.
First, first-generation students struggle with persistence and retention. Six years after starting college, more than half of first-generation students had not earned their bachelor’s degrees, a higher rate than their peers with parents who graduated, according to the center. Similarly, of today’s online learners who reported being previous stop-outs, a third reported being first-generation students.
Secondly, among those students who do graduate, many report struggling with connecting to their careers. According to a report from the University of Phoenix Career Institute, 50% are experiencing burnout at work, 40% do not see a clear path for advancing their career and 52% are not satisfied with what they are currently making.
To help with student retention, colleges and related stakeholders are helping promote success coaches focus on this demographic of students.
“To truly support first-gen students, institutions must meet them where they are,” wrote Alex Leader, chief impact officer at Watermark, an edtech company focused on student success. “By understanding the student’s background, colleges and universities can pave the way for them to discover their potential and find satisfaction in their college experience.”
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is awarding more than $2.4 million in grants focused on college success across 22 college campuses, including Indiana University, Columbus and nine other IU locations, The Republic reports.
As for boosting more effective career pathways for students, Bay Path University organizes meetings between employers and groups of students to facilitate job shadowing, according to EAB. With students experiencing greater exposure to different career pathways, they have a stronger understanding of what they should be looking for upon graduation and feel more informed in the job application process.