An estimated one in three of America’s undergraduate college students is a first-generation college student. That’s about five million people, according to The Center for First-Generation Success.
Some Ohio universities define first-generation as students whose parents’ highest education level is a high school degree or less.
Compared to people who aren’t the first in their families to go to college, the Center reports, first-gen students have fewer financial resources. They attend college at lower rates. And those who do end up going earn four-year degrees at lower percentages.
Carrying this label can be part of a person’s identity, too. It is for me. I became the first person in my family to graduate from college when I walked across the stage at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall more than a decade ago. But it wasn’t until I started reporting on higher education that I realized how the first-gen lens shaped – and, to be frank, continues to impact – my experiences as well as how I see myself.
We’re looking to connect with other Cleveland residents who are either current first-gen students or first-gen graduates. Please fill out the form below to share your experiences.