Understanding the nuanced needs of income eligible, first generation college students is critical to our success at Nativity Prep Academy. First-generation college students (FGCS) are those students whose parents lack a four-year college degree (University of California definition). At Nativity Prep Academy, all of our students meet this qualification.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2015-16), 56% of students qualify as first generation college students. In the United States, 60% of FGCS identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Supporting those students who qualify as FGCS is critical because:
How can we improve outcomes for First-Generation College Students?
- Mentors and career resources can play an important role in helping these students develop cultural and social capital for career readiness and transition, even for the most motivated FGCS.
- Students may benefit from living and learning communities, co curricular programs, summer bridge programs, and high-impact practices to expand on classroom instruction (Kuh, 2008). Examples include writing-intensive instruction, study abroad and study away programs, and internships, among others.
- Those serving FGCS should address imposter syndrome from an individual and institutional level and dispel the common fears that FGCS may have about being in a higher education setting.
- Faculty and staff serving FGCS must recognize the intersections of identity, including race, gender, and socioeconomic status and avoid treating the experiences of FGCS as monolithic.
- FGCS benefit from support services for their families. This includes addressing “family achievement guilt” or a sense of “other,” coupled with pride and high expectations for academic achievement and college success in FGCS. Because a student’s family defines first-generation status, the role of their family is an important component for their success.
- A significant barrier to student success for FGCS is lack of engagement in institutional support services. This reticence generally originates from a combination of historically poor support from other major institutions throughout their lives, fears around the potential repercussions of asking for help, and a lack of awareness about the existence of university resources and services.
- To augment the success of first-generation students, especially outside of the classroom, university staff need to be proactive in reaching out to students, as opposed to waiting for students to find services.
- Faculty and staff in institutions serving FGCS ought to provide professional development in the nuanced needs of FGCS’ and develop mentoring strategies that will best meet student needs.
At Nativity Prep, we seek to mitigate the challenges facing FGCS by implementing research-based best practices as part of an 11 year commitment to our students and their families. These include:
In addition to supporting our current students, alumni and their families, we seek to be a resource for our community and those institutions to which NPA students matriculate. Our library of resources includes research-based, best practices to support income eligible, first generation college students.