Shattering the Barriers

Katherine Ramirez , Staff Writer

As some view picking a college as an eventful experience, for others it can be a difficult challenge never faced before them. 

The Higher Education Act of 1965 and 1998  deems students whose parents did not complete a bachelor’s degree as first generation students. According to the Department of Education, 56% of incoming college students are first generation. 

“Being a first generation student has definitely had an affect on the way I perceive my education,” said junior Juan Escobar. “Ever since I was a kid, being the first in my family to possess a successful career has held me to high standards and expectations.” 

Most first generation students tend to come from minority backgrounds, low-income households, and/or are born out of the United States. Hispanic community makes up 25%, African American, makes up 18%, and Whites make up 46% of the total percentage of overall first gen students. 

“A lot of that pressure I have imposed on myself because I pressure myself to be successful and make my family proud.””

— Junior Juan Escobar

“I believe there is pressure for me to pursue a higher education after high school,” said Escobar. “A lot of that pressure I have imposed on myself because I pressure myself to be successful and make my family proud.”

Throughout the years there has been a major increase in first gen students from 22% to 43%. Many face obstacles such as familial support, financial support, low racial representation, and possibly low academic self-esteem. 

“When I was younger I got held back because I only knew how to speak Spanish,” junior Jocelyn Suarez said. “Sadly, the school didn’t help through that and instead told my parents that I was disabled because I wasn’t able to learn English.”

One of today’s most controversial issues is low funding for schools. When there is no funding for schools, there is no money for high qualified teachers, causing a gap in college readiness. Most first-generation students who take the SAT and ACT have a tendency to to score lower than people who have had previous generations test takers.

Another major problem is the lack of familiarity. Without having a guide to apply for colleges or college related things, first generation students get left behind if they refuse to reach out for help.

Several colleges are implementing more welcoming and friendly environments to help with the settlement of major new changes. 

The same students often also struggle with finding ways to pay for college. Most of the students come from low income earning areas, creating more barriers to get over.

“It’s so hard to find a job without some sort of a college degree and even harder to find a good paying job without a masters degree,” senior Lizbeth Romero said. It sets the standard extremely high, and not everyone is able to afford it.”

Nowadays it is very rare that first generation students won’t receive help. Several places offer information on certain items to help better their beginning of college experience. On campus, counselors have information to hand out if needed or teachers may also have resources.