WCC supporting first-generation students

November 23, 2023 WCC Public Relations


Statistically speaking, first-generation college students aren’t as likely to graduate as those who come from homes with college-educated parents.

Nationally, only 26% of first-gen students earn a degree compared to 82% of students with two parents who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Washtenaw Community College is working to even out those odds.

The college joined the national First-Generation College Celebration movement, which is intended to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of first-generation college students.

WCC Dean of Student Access, Success, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Eric Reed opened a recent workshop by stating the goal is to “build a community of support” for first-generation college students.

“We’re here to celebrate the contributions of first-gen students and also highlight some of the barriers we still have to break down as a college and a higher education system,” Reed added.

Three WCC staff members — Center for Career Success Director Cheryl Harvey, Student Success Coach Earle Jackson and Recruiting & Outreach Specialist Cassandra Calderon-Castro — shared their first-gen stories with gathered students.

Despite coming from different backgrounds, first-gen students tend to have much in common. Many are highly motivated and eager to excel, but may encounter similar challenges, often related to economic and social factors.

Without an adult in their lives to offer first-person help, first-generation students need to learn the lingo and unspoken cultural norms and expectations of a college education on their own and may need to constantly explain the demands and rigors of college life to friends and family.

Tags: December 2023, First generation, On The Record, Student Services

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