When we wrote On the Quad, we had many students in mind including first generation students (students who are first in their families to go to college). We did this for many reasons, but chief among them was that Heidi and I had many experiences advising real students from all kinds of backgrounds; we noticed that some students “understood the system” due to family lore, sibling’s tales, or other legacy ways. Consequently, our book starts at the beginning, thinking about what kinds of institutions of higher education exist and then discussing how to consider which one might be a good fit for you (the reader).
It is hard for any one of us to know the experiences of others. But, sometimes we do get to hear their stories. In this story here from NPR’s “Been There: Lessons from a Shared Experience,” we hear two first generation college students — one who has recently graduated from his university and the other who has just transferred from a community college to a 4-year university — talk about negotiating college life.
They don’t necessarily discuss the ins-and-outs of what college is, how to fill out a FAFSA, or how to study. What they do talk about include how to fit in with other students who are different from them — often the differences manifest in economic ways (What if you can’t afford to go hang out with friends at a club because the cover charge is just too high?).
It’s a great chance for anyone — first generation or not — to gain a peek into what the person next to you in your math class might be struggling with. Take a minute and listen.