Amid the chaos of saying goodbye to family, trying to fit all their belongings into a cramped space, and meeting the stranger they were to live with for the next year, two in every five freshmen faced an additional challenge on move-in day. They were about to embark on a four year journey to which their parents could not relate.
According to statistics released by college admissions, first generation college students, students who are the first in their family to attend college, comprise 41percent of the class of 2014. This statistic translates to the reasonable estimation that a first generation student lives behind almost every door of freshmen residence halls.
For those whose parents cannot offer firsthand advice, Sarah Stokely, Associate Dean of Student Academic Life advises, “Seek out mentors, whether they are peers, faculty, or staff. Build your own support network.”
Like many of their peers who come from families who have gone to college for many generations, first generation college students are probably struggling with many emotions linked to academic and social differences between high school and college life, Stokely explained.
Deborah Johnson-Ross, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs believes that McDaniel is the perfect place gain support as freshmen because we are a “relationship oriented community.”
“When [first generation] students visit, they talk with other students and realize that they will get the support they need,” she explained.
Freshman and first generation college student Anna Pleskunas agreed with Johnson-Ross’s sentiment, claiming, “It was very easy to get acclimated here.”
Freshman Kristen Hall, another first generation student, fell in love with the McDaniel campus when her dad brought her to the Raven’s training camp. After living here for a few weeks, McDaniel “already feels like home.”
The spike in first generation students may be interesting to some due to the recession.
“Education is recession-proof,” Johnson-Ross explained. “Parents are interested in their children pursuing a career, not just having a job. No recession can take away education.”
First generation students set the standard and example for friends and family, Johnson-Ross added. While they find mentors in others, they must keep in mind that they are mentors to others.