Free Essay: First-Generation Low-Income Students

Published: 2023-10-10
Free Essay: First-Generation Low-Income Students
Essay type:  Compare and contrast
Categories:  College Education Communication
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1411 words
12 min read

Colleges continue to play their critical role in providing the students with a pathway of exploring themselves. They also assist the students in expanding their social and cultural experiences and ensuring that they eventually build a more promising career. Based on the results of the research conducted by the US Census Bureau, approximately 37.2% of the adult population had attained a bachelor's degree which reflected an average of 37.8% to the states (Hahs-Vaughn, 2004). Although the college education is perceived to be rich in diversity and rewards, it continues to ardour the first-generation college students. The college education opportunities were initially limited to students from lower socioeconomic status. It is therefore important to discuss some of the characteristics of the first generation minority low-income students, how their enrollment, retention and academic performance can be compared to traditional college students and the impact that parental support on college enrollment, retention and success. It is as well important to discuss the effectiveness of the college-ready programs for students and the attitudes of the first-generation college students in regards to College and some of the challenges that they experience when it comes to attending College.

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Characteristics of First-Generation Low-Income Students

One of the most significant characteristics of the low-income first-generation minority students is that they feel uncomfortable within the collegiate atmosphere. A key reason why they may feel that way is because of the limited communication and interactions among their peers. If the parents would increase the enrollment of such students, they need to help them increase their confidence while interacting with their peers. Today, 50% of the 20% first-generation low-income students entering a 4-year college require at least one remedial course (McCarron & Inkelas, 2006). Only a third of such students earn a bachelor's degree. In contrast, less than 10% of the first-generation low-income students graduate from their respective colleges.

Comparison Between the Enrollment, Retention, and Academic Performance of the First-Generation Low-Income Students to Traditional College Students

Few first-generation, low-income students are usually enrolled in a college compared to traditional college students. Results of a study that was conducted from Massachusetts indicated that at least 65% of the first-generation low-income students that were enrolled within the community college had the mandate of going through at least one remedial course (Carrell & Sacerdote, 2017). That was in comparison to the 22% of the state colleges as well as the 8% students that were enrolled at state universities. At the same time, they do not have a better understanding of how such programs function and how they can benefit from them (Roderick et al., 2009). First-generation, low-income students record poor academic performance compared to traditional college students because they do not have better preparations for improving their college education.

Impact of Parental Support on College Enrollment, Retention, and Success

Parental support will increase students' enrollment because they play a significant role in offering the practical and academic knowledge that the students require to succeed in higher education. However, first-generation college students are from low-income families hence attending low performing pre-k-12 schools (Dumais & Ward, 2010). Parental support can help increase retention of such students by offering the necessary family support and financial stability. The financial contribution seems to have stimulated the parental support since, over the last three years, an average of 9.4 college students have recorded a 91% success rate (Litkowski, 2017). They can also assist in improving success through doing away with the low academic self-esteem that seems to affect the majority of the low-income first-generation minority students.

Effectiveness of College-Ready Programs for Students

The college-ready programs continue to assist the students in gaining familiarity with the signs of the high school curriculum and its relationship with the college preparedness and the readiness of the first-generation minority students. The college-ready programs have helped in reducing the number of students that initially dropped out of college, which was much expensive for the country (Leonard, 2013). That is based on the results of a research project that was conducted which indicated that students that dropped out of College in 2002 cost the country approximately $3.8 billion within the local income (Dennis et al., 2005). Such amount reflected approximately $730 million in federal and the state taxes in just a single year.

Attitudes of First-Generation College Students in Regard to College

The low-income first-generation college students have less confidence in their academic competitiveness and success. In most cases, such minority students face the stigma that for their admission within the colleges, the process is mainly based on affirmative action instead of their academic abilities; hence that is one perception that the parents need to do away with from their children (Atherton, 2014). Such students struggle a lot while finding their place in College, resulting in a feeling of being left out (McMahon et al., 2017). Perceptions of negative student-college interactions may result in counteractive effects on the sense of belonging of such students, resulting from dropping out.

Challenges First-Generation Minority Students Face when it comes to Attending College.

Minimal exposure towards the college-going culture results in challenges while assimilating to the college setting for low-income first-generation minority students academically and socially (Barry et al., 2008). In most cases, such parents perceive the desire of their children to join the college education as either offensive or arrogant (Gándara et al., 2001). As part of increasing the number of students enrolled in the colleges, the parents need to have a better understanding of the amount of time and academic focus required from the students (Jeynes, 2007). Based on the results of research that was conducted in Agassiz High School, 21% of the total students were from low-income families hence clear evidence that they were facing various challenges which did not support them to stay in school.


In conclusion, when parents take various college readiness intervention measures, they will significantly increase enrollment for low-income first-generation minority students. The parents need to do so by doing away with the low academic self-esteem affecting most low-income first-generation minority students. They can also do all that by increasing their estrangement through not separating the children from their respective families. The ready programs are part of the recommendations that have been implemented to ensure there is an increase of the first-generation low-income students being enrolled and retained in their respective colleges.


Atherton, M. C. (2014). Academic preparedness of first-generation college students: Different perspectives. Journal of College Student Development, 55(8), 824-829.

Barry, L. M., Hudley, C., Cho, S. J., & Kelly, M. (2008). College Students' Perceptions of Parental Support: Differences and Similarities by First-generation Status. Southeastern Teacher Education Journal, 1(1).

Carrell, S., & Sacerdote, B. (2017). Why do college-going interventions work?. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 9(3), 124-51.

Dennis, J. M., Phinney, J. S., & Chuateco, L. I. (2005). The role of motivation, parental support, and peer support in the academic success of ethnic minority First-generation College students. Journal of College Student Development, 46(3), 223-236.

Dumais, S. A., & Ward, A. (2010). Cultural capital and first-generation college success. Poetics, 38(3), 245-265.

Gándara, P., Gutiáez, D., & O'Hara, S. (2001). Planning for the future in rural and urban high schools. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 6(1-2), 73-93.

Hahs-Vaughn, D. (2004). The impact of parents' education level on college students: An analysis using the beginning postsecondary students longitudinal study 1990-92/94. Journal of College Student Development, 45(5), 483-500.

Jeynes, W. H. (2007). The relationship between parental involvement and urban secondary school student academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Urban Education, 42(1), 82-110.

Leonard, J. (2013). Maximizing College Readiness for All Through Parental Support. School Community Journal, 23(1), 183-202.

Litkowski, E. (2017). Parents’ and teachers’ beliefs about school readiness: Working toward developing more culturally relevant interventions. International Public Health Journal, 211.

McCarron, G. P., & Inkelas, K. K. (2006). The gap between educational aspirations and attainment for first-generation college students and the role of parental involvement. Journal of College Student Development, 47(5), 534-549.

McMahon, G., Griffith, C., Mariani, M., & Zyromski, B. (2017). School Counseling Intervention Research on College Readiness, College Access, and Postsecondary Success: A 10-Year Content Analysis of Peer-Reviewed Research. Journal of College Access, 3(2), 8-27.

Roderick, M., Nagaoka, J., & Coca, V. (2009). College readiness for all: The challenge for urban high schools. The future of children, 185-210.

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