Were you/Are you a first-generation college student?

posted 3 years ago in College
  • poll: Were you a first-generation college student?
    I did not attend college, and my parents didn't either : (2 votes)
    4 %
    I did not attend college, but at least one of my parents graduated from college : (0 votes)
    I attended college, and so did my parents : (21 votes)
    38 %
    I attended college, but neither of my parents did (I'm a first-gen student!!) : (33 votes)
    59 %
  • Post # 3
    219 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2014

    That’s an interesting quote. I come from a working class family where I was the first to attend and graduate college. I had a great undergrad experience and did not feel the way that quote expresses. However, I got my master’s degree in education and read a lot of research about this issue on the grade school and high school level. Students from working class families are often classified by administrators (and sometimes teachers) as eventual blue collar workers, and they aren’t given the type of innovative education students from more “priviledged” families get. I’d love to read other bees’ experience with this as well. Good luck with your dissertation!

    Post # 4
    10748 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: February 2014

    All my parents and 3/4 grandparents went to university, so I’m definitely not a first generation student. But I have no idea what my friends/co-students family educational backgrounds were, so I don’t think it matters much. If you’re smart, you’re smart! 

    Post # 5
    5207 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: February 2013

    I attended college, my parents met in college (so obviously they both attended), and my grandfather attended as well.

    Post # 6
    2551 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2010

    Well I’m ignoring my thesis proposal, so I’ll answer! 🙂

    Yes, I’m a first-gen college graduate. Neither my parents nor any grandparents have a Bachelors +  degree. I guess technically when I was about 8 my dad went back to college to get his AA and maybe his Bachelors in business – I know he doesn’t have the BA but he might have the AA (we are estranged, so I’m unsure). 

    That’s an interesting quote. I never felt like I didn’t belong in academia – I actually felt most at home there. However, since middle school I have been in gifted, honors, AP, etc programs so I was never funneled into alternative work paths, and I’m sure that’s a large part of feeling accepted. I have been surrounded by peers from more educated families (and still am, in graduate school) but it’s not been that alienating until my friends start talking about their MD/PhD parents and how they’re on TedTalks or whatever, lol. I just faked the confidence til I really had it, and I can’t imagine that post-PhD someone could fail to accept me due to my family’s academic background (at least, I hope). Interesting topic!


    Post # 7
    11772 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: May 2013

    @MrsEdamame:  My father is a truck driver, and my Mom has her associates’ in Hotel Management (a degree she used for less tha two years before getting married/pregnant).

    I felt okay in college the first year, because my first year of college I had no problem associating with the other students. But when my parents refused to help with my second year of college, I transferred to a state school and had to work full-time on the overnight while taking classes full-time in the day.

    That was the first time I felt different from the other students. I was killing myself to keep my grades passing, keep myself fed, and stay awake in class when I had been awake for 20 hours and was getting 4 hours of sleep a night–not so I could party or have fun or make friends, but because I had to work.

    The more I saw my classmates with their nice jeans and Uggs (while I was in my work pants and work shoes), with their make up and hair done (while I was a mess from being awake 12 hours by 8am, and 18 hours by the end of my day at 2pm), the more I hated them.

    I hated that they could have this wonderful “college experience” that I had heard so much about, while I was struggling to make ends meet. My professors constantly chastized me for falling asleep in class, and I once started laughing in a sociology class because my professor was telling us how we were all so lucky to be college students instead of the working poor.

    For a year I felt like no one understood me. At the end of my second year of college, I withdrew with a major depressive episode that took a year to recover from.

    Luckily, I found my affordable online college six months later. I go through Ashworth, which is accredited, $1,200 a semester, and at your own pace–I have done a full course in one afternoon, and had courses that took me six months because of my schedule. I’m 10 courses away from my BA in Early Childhood Education, and I no longer have a raging, burning hatred for college students.

    Post # 8
    4072 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: January 2014

    My dad’s side is full of laywers and college educated individuals, but my mother’s side were all dirt poor farmers who didn’t even graduate high school.

    Many of my friends (and my FI) are/were first generation college students. I feel like they blend in as much as me or others who have college educated family on both sides. I did come from a background of being in gifted programs and taking AP courses, and all of us, regardless of background, were encouraged and expected to seek higher education.

    Post # 9
    1599 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    I am a first generation college grad on both sides- no one in my moms family went until after I did (she went to college two years after me and finally got her bachelors degree! Go mom!) Her parents were both factory workers who came to the states in their early teens so I doubt her grandparents went to any higher learning (my grandfather couldn’t write or read when he moved here at age 13.)

    My dad’s side of the family has some very successful professionals, but none of them got a degree.  He  grew up in a country where family trades were a big deal, and he learned everything from his dad in the factory. 

    My stepdad’s family is all military.


    I guess it’s sort of a cool thing to be the first out of all the cousins and everything to go, but i don’t see it as a huge deal.  My mom should have gone when she was younger, but she was busy working her ass off and it wasn’t in the cards for her.  It was always a top priority from her so it wasn’t even an option for me not to at least get an associates.


    My FIs family are all doctors, lawyers and scientists for 3 generations back, so there’s that ha.  He’s literally the only one who isn’t a doctor, lawyer, or scientist with the exception of one uncle who is a VC guy. FI is the “black sheep” working in finance and not having a few grad degrees 😉

    Post # 10
    1355 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2013 - Vine Street Church

    I went to college and so did both of my parents, but only one of my four grandparents went to college.

    Post # 11
    10219 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: December 2012

    I am over 50.

    As a kid growing up, both my Parents had “some” High School as was the norm back in the 1940s (War Years).

    My Mother finished Grade 8, My Dad Grade 10.

    My Mother worked BEFORE she had kids, then was a SAHM.  My Dad was a labourer, and eventually had an Apprentice position that led to a trade.

    He went to nightschool when I was a kid to better himself (for over 10 years).  He completed High School, and moved onto College & University Classes as an Adult / Mature Student (so altho he got a Diploma & a Degree, as a Mature Student he didn’t have to take quite so many Humanity Courses as someone who goes to Uni full-time as a Day Student… coming right out of High School & College).  He still did a FULL LOAD of courses to get those Certifications but there were more Credits required “in his field”.

    Anyhow… By the time I was off to Uni, he had graduated the year prior (BEng).

    Over the 10+ Years that he went to school, he was recognized in his career, and moved ahead… so we moved up the “economic ladder” from being a lower middle class family to a middle-middle class family (with him ending up in a Management Position with the same company he’d worked with for 40+ years by the time he retired)

    I am very proud of my Dad’s accomplishments… it was waaay harder for him to get his degree than it ever was I to get mine.

    BUT at the same time it was a family commitment / sacrifice.  With my Dad going to school 2 Nights a Week, and on Saturdays… PLUS doing homework every night thru the week, it meant that some things as a kid had to be sacrificed… particularly if it fell on a Saturday.

    As a kid I missed out on a lot of Birthday Parties, Sporting Activities etc… I remember I kind-of thought that sucked as a kid, but I’ve come to accept it more as an Adult, cause I realize that the Benefits to his Education for our family far outweighed the “perceived” negatives.

    Hope this helps,

    PS… As the first generation to go to College & Uni right out of High School… My Father in particular put a lot of stress on the importance of my doing well… not wasting “the opportunity”… and that I needed to “appreciate” the chance… hence I didn’t have a job in HS, so I could concentrate on school to get good grades “to make the cut”.  And I did have jobs every Summer and Xmas Holiday when in Uni to “pay my own way”. 

    My Dad would cover “the gap”… but it was expected that I would pay the bulk of the expenses… Tuition, Books, Dorm Fees, Spending Money.  In a normal year, I’d pay my Tuitition, Books & Dorm Fees in Advance of the School Year.  And get by with any other money to cover Weekly Spending Money (Food & Fun Money).  When I was running short… usually around February, he’d pitch in and start covering that aspect of my Weekly Budget.


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