One-third, 33.3%, or about 33 out of 100. No matter how you say it, the fact stays the same: one in every three incoming freshman are first-generation college students. While that’s definitely a large portion of the population, it certainly didn’t feel like that to me.
Growing up in an upper-middle class suburb of New York, I thought my friends had it easy; their parents were doctors, lawyers, bankers, and professors all with Master’s Degrees and PhDs. To me, they had every study guide for every subject built right in to their family. I, on the other hand, had to fend for myself.
My parents, while extremely supportive, loving and hard-working, never went to college.
The day I got my early acceptance letter from GWU, the three of us simultaneously realized that their time to be teachers was abruptly coming to an end for their eldest child, and as a results the disconnects between us started to become larger and larger. The first was sorority recruitment. While they were referencing Animal House, my friends’ parents were writing reference letters for their “legacy” daughters. Luckily, I stuck with my gut, and got into an amazing sorority filled with girls that my parents would be proud to call their daughters as well.
The support I immediately received from my new sisters was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Not only did I have a mom, a dad, and a brother at home I also had 160 sisters and 160 sets of parents to ask for advice. My parents were relieved that I had a place to find the answers to all of my collegiate questions, even if they were a little offended that it was no longer in them.
For first- and second-year students, NSCS can provide the same support to its members that I found with my sisters. In support of first generation students like myself, they are now providing the First in the Family Scholarship. NSCS is helping to remove the financial barriers to help first-gens complete their degrees, since they are almost four times as likely to drop out in their first year as their peers.
While I did seem less prepared than my peers, my parents set me up perfectly to overcome and compensate for that gap. No, my parents didn’t have doctorates and no, they couldn’t help me with regression analysis or how to structure a thesis, but they did help me realize the importance of getting an education. I was fortunate enough to find an amazing support system once I arrived at my university; NSCS can be that for you.
Ava Taylor is a recent graduate from the George Washington University Class of 2013 with a degree in Communication. She’s currently the Coordinator of Marketing Communications for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a NHL blogger for Sportsrants.com. To contact Ava, email firstname.lastname@example.org.