Harder Climb to Higher Education

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Jason DeParle, senior writer at The New York Times and author of American Dream, and Kristen Harris, director of College Guidance at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering and chairman of The College Access Consortium of New York (CACNY), talk about some of the issues first generation college students face.


Jason Deparle and Kristen Harris

Comments [10]

Stephanie from Brooklyn

I'm a first-generation college student from a low-income background and I found that within my own family, they were impressed simply with the fact that I obtained a bachelor's degree and they all felt that my degree would automatically ensure a good job for me. I have struggled ever since graduation with employment, and although I sometimes feel that this could be a symptom of graduating into a deep recession, I now understand that a major factor in my success came from my lack of preparation for post-graduate life.

Although career help could have been available to me at my school and likely would have made a difference, I did not have anyone advising me to take advantage of the options I didn't even know I had. I have several friends who are also first-generation college graduates who are in the same position, working in fields that have nothing to do with their areas of study and wondering why their degree made no difference other than to put them into tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

I found out only after graduating that some of my fellow students had parents who encouraged them and helped them to get into internships during and in between semesters. They took advantage of job fairs and informational interviews. They began their job searches a full semester before graduation, if not earlier. They were a part of clubs and networks on-campus that connected them to alumni that helped them in their search for a job.

I think there needs to be more focus on this aspect of helping first-generation college students as opposed to simply on getting them into college and through to graduation.

Feb. 06 2013 12:03 PM
Jf from The future

College is too nescessary to be monitized! Unemployment should have a college option. Free college=utopia {in part

Feb. 06 2013 11:43 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Cultural alienation from educational systems reflects degrees of separation from the power structure, and is oeprative in ongoing challenges with K-12+.

Feb. 06 2013 11:43 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Colleges should be actively reaching out to students who need this kind of help. Even if they don't have enough personnel, they should be able to refer students to places that can help them.

Feb. 06 2013 11:42 AM
Christine from Westchester

Your caller is saying "they hire" people to help. We don't. We read, we find out, we pay attention as parents. It's not fair to say we just farm out the work a parent should do. That said, I understand that parents who haven't been to college won't know "the drill" but support from the schools, perhaps a mentor, would help.

Feb. 06 2013 11:41 AM

My parents had little to no education in Mexico. I moved to NY from Chicago, went to BMCC and transferred to Hunter and worked low-wage jobs to support myself. I was lucky to get a job at a not-for-profit and ended up dropping out 18 credits shy of graduation.

I find that most resources are for the younger, traditional students. What resources are there for those who have humble beginnings and are still lagging behind as older adults?

Feb. 06 2013 11:41 AM
Lisa from NYC

As a Hispanic women from a low income community, attending the City University system and then Harvard University I can testify it is a lifelong process. Persistence, dedication, a supportive family and great teachers are all part of the necessary mixed to make it through Higher Education.

Feb. 06 2013 11:38 AM
Christine from Westchester

From what I've seen, there are plenty of programs to help, just not alot of students who are motivated which may be a statement about what they are exposed to from early on. Kids in families that already have higher education start talking about "where" you will go to school not "if" you will go on to college. How does one change the family situation?

And why only college? Trade workers (carpenters, plumbers, electricians) and nurses/healthcare don't need a degree: Why not more focus there?

Feb. 06 2013 11:36 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The college "bubble" is collapsing the way the housing and stock market bubbles collapsed. It fed on itself with the self-sustaining rubric that higher education is virtually an automatic ticket to middle class prosperity.

Feb. 06 2013 11:31 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Social Science" is an oxymoron. The field should be renamed to "Social Engoineering."

Feb. 06 2013 11:24 AM

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