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Forbes featured President Marvin Krislov's latest column: "Celebrating First-Generation College Day And Beyond"

11/09/2020

Forbes featured President Marvin Krislov's latest column: "Celebrating First-Generation College Day And Beyond"

Nicole Ojeda is the president of our Student Government Association on Pace University’s New York City campus. In fact, she’s a born leader. She has been executive secretary of our Latin American student organization and the founding executive vice president of our hip hop dance team, Urban Sound.

Nicole is also a first-generation college student, the first in her family to attend college. 

Sunday, November 8, is National First-Generation College Celebration Day. Scheduled for the anniversary of the day President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark Higher Education Act in 1965, National First-Generation Celebration Day is an opportunity to honor first-generation students on our campuses, celebrate their successes, and work together toward better ways to support them. At Pace, it’s a chance to honor students like Nicole. And it is a time to recognize that helping first-generation students — a community most impacted by the pandemic — to succeed and thrive in college and beyond is critical for American economic strength and for American families.

There are differing definitions for what constitutes a first-generation student. But however you slice it, there are a lot of them. The Center for First-Generation Student Success reports that 56 percent of American colleges have parents who did not earn a bachelor’s degree. Some 24 percent have parents with no post-secondary education at all.

And the evidence shows that these first-gen students often need extra support. They’re likely to need more financial aid. They’re less likely to have mentors. Perhaps most important, they simply don’t have parents at home who have been through the college experience and can help guide them. Through no fault of their own or their families, first-gen kids can’t lean on parents who know how to build a resume for college, how to navigate the sometimes grueling application process, how to apply for financial aid, or how to transition into college life, or how to network for jobs after they graduate. The data shows that the pandemic is hitting first-gen and minority students hardest, creating roadblocks to success and discouraging some of them from applying to school or continuing work toward their degrees.

Read the full Forbes article.