First-Generation Falcons

First Generation Falcons

Did you know that almost one-third of college freshmen are first-generation college students? We think our first-generation students should be proud of being the first in their families to pursue higher education, but sometimes being the first to try something new can be stressful. We want you to know that you aren’t alone, and that we are here to help you make the most of your college experience. That’s why we’ve created this guide just for you, our first-generation Falcons.

How do I know if I’m a first-generation student?

Definitions about what constitutes a first-generation student can vary depending on institution or department, especially in terms of financial aid and scholarships. At East Central College, you are a first-generation student if your parents or supporters did not earn an associate degree or higher after high school.

Fast facts about first-gen students

For first-generation college students, we know there are barriers to earning your degree. Research has shown that first-generation college students receive less support from their families, know less about higher education, and have a harder time feeling as though they belong at their institution. The NASPA Center for First-Generation Student Success made these observations:

  • First-generation students were more likely to use institutional services such as financial aid rather than counseling and academic advising.
  • Twenty-eight percent of first-gen students were age 30 or older.
  • First-gen students are more likely to be employed while completing their degree compared to continuing-generation college students.

Remember that while statistics are important for helping us understand populations more broadly, you have the chance to shape your first-generation experience into one that you’ll find valuable throughout your life.

Tips for first-gen student success

To help you make the most of your status as a first-gen Falcon, here are some quick tips.

Wear your first-gen status as a badge of honor.

Sometimes first-gen college students feel ashamed of being new to the higher education system, but truly there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Being a first-generation student means you’re a trailblazer in your family, and it should excite you to be the first one to take on such an exciting new chapter in your life.

At East Central College, we feel especially connected to our first-generation students because so many of our employees are first-generation students themselves. We have dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators who were once in your shoes, which means we know how important it is that you feel supported and welcome during your time here. More than anything, we want you to know that you belong here, and you deserve to be here.

First-Gen Employees & Their Experiences

Make the most of campus resources & get involved.

We don’t think any of our students should have to navigate college on their own, but we know from research that first-generation college students are less likely to ask for help. However, that doesn’t have to be the case We have a variety of resources to help you succeed, and our employees are willing to do what they can to make your experience as stress-free as possible. If you haven’t yet, take this time to browse just a few of our essential student resources, and use them!

Build your support network.

One of the bigger obstacles for first-generation college students is not having a parent or guardian familiar with the processes of higher education. Whether you’re completing your application for admission, filing your FAFSA, or registering for classes, it can be difficult to feel like you don’t have someone in your life who understands what you’re going through. However, there are ways to build support networks with other people who do understand what you’re experiencing and know how to help you.

You might turn to your high school counselors or teachers, or maybe a faculty member you’ve gotten to know during your first semester at college. You can also turn to your academic advisor or success coach, both of which will be assigned to you as soon as you become a Falcon.

By getting involved on campus, you may also befriend other first-generation college students with whom you can navigate college together. Regardless of what your support network looks like, it’s important to know that your experiences are valid, and that we are here to help.