First-gen students receive first-class education
What colleges should I apply to? How do I choose a major? How will financial aid affect my tuition? What’s it like to live in a dorm?
Going to college for the first time raises a lot of questions, and finding the answers to those questions can be especially overwhelming for first-generation students — a student whose parents haven’t earned a bachelor’s degree.
First-gen students often have to navigate college life without being able to look to their parents for answers to some of those questions, and often they don’t even know what questions they should be asking.
Carthage is proud that 25 percent of its freshman class and 23 percent of its undergrads are first-gen students. To accommodate these individuals, Carthage offers a variety of programs to ensure first-gen students get the resources they need to succeed in college.
Carthage student Celena Allen ’23 understands the significance of being a first-gen student. “Being the first in my family to attend college means a lot to me,” she states. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to further my education and create a better life for myself in the future.”
All first-gen students get an exclusive introduction to the campus. Carthage offers First in the Family (FIF), a pre-orientation program for first-gen students to help with their transition into college. During this three-day event, new students get the opportunity to connect with other first-gen students — old and new — meet their first-year advisors, and receive important information.
Esteban Machado ’22 was one of the many students who took advantage of the FIF Program. “FIF gave me numerous tips and advice on how to transition to college life. I got to meet a handful of peers in my class that shared the same trait, being a first-gen. FIF had many events in which upperclassmen came and gave us tips on how to succeed in classes and gave us advice on what to do and what not to do when it came to getting good grades.”
All new students are assigned a student success advisor during their first semester. The advisors work with students and provide them with academic advising and advice about college life.
Student success advisor Anna Thompson says she enjoys working with first-gen students because of their determination and resilience. “They are trying something that they may have very little knowledge about or support for, but they’re doing it anyway.”
First course to success
Carthage requires incoming undergraduates to take a College Success Seminar to help them navigate through college. This class is taught by a student success advisor and covers many different aspects of college, from how to conquer time management to making a four-year plan. There are also different programs depending on your year:
First career plan
Besides needing to know what classes to take, it is crucial for students to prepare for their life after graduation. During the first few days at Carthage, students meet with a career specialist from The Aspire Program, a four-year career preparation program that helps students prepare for life after college.
Ms. Thompson encourages first-gen students to get involved. “Connect with other students who can help you learn how to navigate campus — joining 1G is a great way to do that.” 1G is a student-led organization devoted to helping first-gen students by supporting them and helping them excel academically and socially.
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“If you are a first-gen student, never give up.”
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Being a first-generation student is an amazing feat, and Carthage wants nothing more than to see all students excel in their college careers and beyond.
“If you are a first-gen student, never give up,” Carthage student Daniella Avilez ’21 advises. “Being the first is terrifying and intimidating, especially when you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, but don’t let that fear get the best of you. You’ve gotten this far; you have the potential to go even further and do great things. Make connections with other students, talk to your professors, and find someone you trust. Starting college and finishing college will be one of your best achievements.”