Campus Commentary

First Generation College Students: How Does UCBA Stack Up?


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As higher education continues to become more accessible to people of all backgrounds, more and more first-generation college students are breaking family tradition and enrolling in universities. UCBA has many first gen students.

Valerie Soto, one such UCBA student, pictured furthest to the right, is heavily involved with student life and was a Student Orientation leader this past summer and is currently a Student Ambassador for Valerie Sotothe University, an incredibly competitive position.

She enjoys her time at UC Blue Ash and believes that, “UCBA does a great job receiving first year gen one students and throughout orientation they give out helpful information as well. As a first-generation student being Latina as well, I really felt welcomed and even now I still feel like this college does a great job with diversity.”

Soto identifies the  support of fellow students who helped her transition as crucial: “The resources that have helped me the most were the Student Orientation Leaders during my orientation. They helped me stay at ease throughout my whole orientation and they helped me with any questions I had; financial aid and scholarships also helped a lot.” Her insight shows that support from peers can be critical for students who are unfamiliar with a college setting and aren’t sure how to progress. Soto was greatly impacted by her mentors and felt the need to help incoming freshman who were scared like her the very next year.

Students need to feel support from the students and faculty around them so that they can be truly successful in a higher education setting. It’s also important that UC Blue Ash as an institution has the proper resources set in place.

UCBA One Stop offers help with the FAFSA and other financial issues

UCBA offers several resources that are useful for all students that are enrolled on campus, and that may be especially helpful for a first-generation student who isn’t sure how to approach some of the challenges that come along with being a college student. One of the most helpful resources is the One Stop Office located near the front of Muntz Hall.

One of the most daunting aspects of college is the price tag, and how to go about receiving grants, loans and scholarships. Even though UCBA is cheaper than most schools, most students can’t expect to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket and it most likely isn’t possible for them to do so. Luckily, One Stop offers walk in appointments Monday through Friday to offer support for students looking for the answers to some of these financial questions.

One of the most confusing aspects of financial aid is FAFSA, and you might not even know where to start if no one you know has ever had to fill it out. One Stop allows students to bring their information into the office and one of the employees will go through the step by step process of filling the form out with the student, making the process substantially easier. Services like these should be expanded at UCBA and other college campuses to help students transition more smoothly.

UCBA has a high percentage of first generation college students

The National Center for Education Statistics said that, “30% of all entering college freshmen are first-generation college students,” while this a large number of students, the reason for UCBA’s higher than average number of first-generation students likely is attributed to some combination of the following factors: the low tuition rate, the high acceptance rate, and the small campus, and class sizes that allow for a smoother transition from high school, which is incredibly helpful for first generation college students.

College is already a difficult enough transition for students in general, but for students whose family may not know how to prepare or support them from lack of experience, may face a much more difficult time. Another statistic from the shows that, “eighty-nine percent of low-income first-generation students leave college within six years without a degree.”

This data is troubling, and the trend shows that first-generation college students have more barriers than their peers who are not first generation, especially if they come from low income families, which is the case for many of the students enrolled at UCBA. Considering these facts, colleges should consider ways to implement more support for these students to help them combat some of the struggles they face and decrease the number of students who leave college prematurely.

About Alexandra Georgiton

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