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Here is how parents can help first-generation college students

Posted at 7:38 AM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-20 08:38:25-04

Ivanhoe Newswire — There’s a first for everything. First tooth, first step, first date, and now, millions of moms and dads are sending their kids off to their first day of college.

Thirty-three percent of all higher education students are the first in their family to go to college. According to the Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, there are three types of parents of first-generation students: hand-holders who make every decision for their child, the unavailable parent, which is the opposite and the happy medium who are the perfect balance.

And while 56% of students whose parents have a bachelor’s degree graduate within five years, only 44 percent of first-generation students earn a degree. But what happens over the next few months, and years makes all the difference.

“They come into the university and then crash their first quarter, common for a lot of first-generation students,” Margarita Azmitia, Developmental Psychologist at UC Santa Cruz, said.

So how can parents help? First, know the resources. The U.S. Department of Education offers programs such as Upward Bound and Student Services which aids families in the preparation of college. Sites such as and provide tools for parents to better navigate financial aid and paying for school.

“Families should know they should never not consider a school or an institution because of cost,” said John Haller, College Financial Adviser VP of Enrollment Management at the University of Miami.

Experts also say parents need to talk to the academic adviser to grow the support circle of the student.

Some colleges offer “bridge programs” that can assist both students and parents with the college transition. Bridge programs help first-generation students become more comfortable with campus life and can make up for a lack of college preparation during high school.