Videos

First-Generation College Students

May 2019

Full interview with Dr. Margarita Azmitia: https://youtu.be/FVoO3TTtoKI

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Between the applications and financial paperwork, getting any young adult to college is a challenge. Keeping them there can be another. Furthermore, students who are the first in their family to attend college may face additional roadblocks they did not anticipate.

Liliana Martinez and Jade Northover are weeks away from closing the book on high school and starting a new chapter.

Martinez detailed, “I remember when I was younger, I wanted to be an archaeologist, then an artist. Now I want to be a veterinarian.”

Northover told Ivanhoe, “I wanted to be this, this, this, and this. My mom’s like, you can’t be all those things at one time.”

So Northover picked two. She’ll major in pre-medicine and minor in theater at whichever college offers her the best scholarship. It’s all brand new for these two women and their families. Margarita Azmitia, PhD, studied 200 first-generation students and their majors to determine the challenges they face and the resources available to them in college. Azmitia said many students automatically choose a STEM major because they hope their degrees pay off and allow them to help their families.

Azmitia said, “So they come into the university and then crash their first quarter—common for a lot of first-generation students, but especially in STEM. And if you flunk some of those courses, you’re off step. You’re out.”

Azmitia said the second-biggest challenge is financial. Many students from low-income families feel guilty.

“They are living better than their families, so often what they do is start to send part of their scholarship money or part of their work money back home,” explained Azmitia.

Azmitia said first-generation college students should see if their school offers a college culture seminar to help them navigate their new surroundings. [They should] make connections with teaching assistants, [who are] often more accessible than professors. [These students] should also join at least one service organization, which [can be] a great place to make friends and find mentors.

Azmitia said that, nationwide, the first-generation student dropout rate is highest after the first year. For most, it’s not academic difficulties causing them to quit school, but a feeling that they don’t belong. She says parents should actively remind their students that they do deserve the opportunity to go to college and do belong.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Research: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cad.20240


Spanish Translation

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Ya es un reto que un estudiante llegue a la universidad, pero también lo es el que una vez aceptado, se mantenga los 4 años. Los estudiantes que han sido los primeros en su familia en llegar a una facultad se enfrentan a obstáculos inesperados.

En pocas semanas Liliana Martínez y Jade Northover se graduarán de bachillerato y se abrirá un nuevo capítulo en sus vidas. La universidad es una nueva experiencia para estas jóvenes y sus familias. Margarita Azmitia, PhD, estudió a 200 estudiantes que fueron los primeros de sus familias en llegar a la universidad y las carreras que eligieron, para determinar los retos que enfrentaban y los recursos a su alcance. Determinó que la mayoría escogió carreras en ciencia y tecnología en busca de trabajos bien pagados que les permitirían ayudar a su familia. Según Azmitia el mayor reto es el económico. Muchos estudiantes de familias de bajos ingresos se sienten culpables.

Según esta experta, para estos estudiantes sin historial familiar universitario, es importante asistir a seminarios sobre la vida universitaria, que les ayudaran a sentirse más cómodos. Asimismo, recomienda que traten de crear vínculos con los ayudantes docentes, que generalmente son más accesibles que los profesores. ¿Otra herramienta útil? Unirse a alguna asociación estudiantil, para hacer amigos y contactos.

Según esta experta, para los estudiantes que son los primeros en su familia en llegar a la universidad, el nivel de deserción alcanza el mayor nivel después del primer año. En su mayoría, los problemas no son académicos, pero el sentir que ese no es su sitio. Indica que los padres deben de enfatizar que sí merecen ir a la universidad y que sí son parte de ella.

Los contribuyentes a este reportaje incluyen: Cyndy McGrath, Supervisora Y Productora de Campo; Dave Harrison, Editor; Kirk Manson, Camarografo.

Producido por Child Trends News Service en asocio con Ivanhoe Broadcast News y auspiciado por una beca de la National Science Foundation.