Advice About College from First-Generation Students—Your High School Years
by Kathleen Cushman
December 2005 ♦ Paperback ♦ 88 pages ♦ ISBN: 0-9762706-3-3 ♦ $8.95
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"I didn't have a big sister or brother or even a cousin to go to and say, 'What did you do in order to get in?' So I read other people's accounts in books. Things don't always fall in your lap, you know what I'm saying? Like, everybody's not searching you out. You have to take the initiative." — Niema Jordan, Oakland Tech High School '04, Northwestern University '08
How do students put college within their reach, if their families have not gone before them? How do they defy stereotypes and low expectations about their future? How do they advocate for themselves academically, find the information they need, keep their emotional and social balance?
For the past year, WKCD has interviewed first-generation students enrolled at colleges across the country, collecting their answers to these and other questions. In a new book, First in the Family: Advice About College from First-Generation Students, we offer their challenges and insights, to help students following in their footsteps—and the teachers, counselors, and other adults whose support means so much.
These students share a fierce determination. "Education was going to be my ticket out of here," says Eric Polk, now an undergraduate at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. "The first train that comes to Nashville, I'm getting on it. I won't be defined by a statistic, like 'how people who grow up in this area are more likely to turn out.' Not me! I won't!" For Aileen Rosario, a student at Passaic Community College, her family identity became "the one that goes to college, the one that's trying to do something for her life."
They follow diverse dreams. Aileen hopes to be a criminal justice lawyer and Niema a journalist. Naixing Lei, who attends college in San Francisco, wants to combine his interests in Asian-American studies and business. Native-American Karen Powless sees social work as her calling.
The undergraduates whose stories fill First in the Family include:
At community colleges:
|First in the Family
Your High School Years
Chapter 1. You Are College Material
Chapter 2. We Can Do Better
Chapter 3. Making Your Map
Chapter 4. Support Networks
Chapter 5. Stand Up For Your Education
Chapter 6. Stay True to You
Chapter 7. Taking Care of Business
A Planning Checklist
The Student Contributors
At state or mid-level colleges and universities:
At highly selective colleges and universities:
“First in the Family is PERFECT for our student population! I couldn’t imagine anything more useful or inspiring or informative.”
– Lynne Marie Bruce,
Golden Gate HS
“This book is a bible for college preparatory services! There is really nothing else like this out there--there are tons of reports, but nothing else with faces, names, and the emotional resonance of First in the Family.”
– Emily Steinberg,