My concentration is Community College Administration and Leadership; therefore, I aspire to engage low-income and first-generation students. Low-income and first generations students are more likely to attend and persist at a community college opposed to a 4-year institution. Choy (2001) raises a valid point regarding student success and the academic persistence of their parents. “Parents’ education mattered even for graduates who as seniors had planned to enroll in a 4-year institution immediately after high school” (Choy, 2001). Statistically, students are more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher, when their parents have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. Student persistence in this regard, can be attributed to the knowledge of the post-secondary education process of their parents (admissions, financial aid, and course placement).
The goal of community colleges and other post-secondary 2-year institutions is for students to transition to a 4-year institutions. Therefore, it is vital that both students and their parents are knowledgeable of the post-secondary education process. The New American Foundation (2014) notes that many low-income students are plagued by lack of knowledge of course placement, the admissions process, and financial aid.
As higher education professionals, we must anticipate the unique needs of our students. It appears that first generation and low income students require additional initiatives to engage them in the post-secondary environment. Administrators must take steps beyond developing the intelligential skills of students. As noted by Gary and George (2005) first generation students are less likely to persist. “For example, first-generation students tend to come from families with lower incomes and have lower levels of engagement in high school” (Gary & George, 2005). This information should encourage administrators to be proactive in addressing the needs of low-income and first generation students. Perhaps, institutions could incorporate courses regarding financial aid and course placement into their curriculum to ensure that students are educated on the process. For example, at my institutions students that are less likely to persist (low test scores, first generation, low-income, etc) are required to take a seminar course for the entire academic year. The course provides additional tutoring , support, and information to students about the collegiate environment.
Choy (2001), Students Whose Parents Did Not Go to College: Postsecondary Access, Persistence, and Attainment (PDF)
New America Foundation. [New America]. (2014, November 12). Will reauthorization save the Higher Education Act? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ser7C6Jt97c
Pike & Kuh (2005), First- and Second-Generation College Students: A comparison of Their Engagement and Intellectual Development (PDF)