For parents, sending their son or daughter to college can feel like a daunting task, especially if they are the first in their family to attend. These students are referred to as first generation students, or “first gen.” Dr. Bridget Lee, director of Multicultural Affairs, and Eileen Colon, director of retention, have advice for parents as they support their students during this new and exciting time.
Dr. Lee has launched several initiatives to support first-generation students. She shares how impactful one student’s accomplishments can be for the whole family. “First gen students are pioneers and trailblazers within their families” she said, “But it’s important for them to know that they won’t ‘stick out’ or be treated differently than any other student on campus. Parents can help by reminding their students about this.”
Eileen, who was a first-generation college student herself, agrees. “We always tell students and parents to not let their doubts take over to the point that they decide to pull away from the opportunity to get their degree.”
Beyond encouragement, parents can support their students in many practical ways as well.
Eileen recommends visiting the SEU campus in person. “A visit allows students to visualize themselves as part of the campus community,” she says. “Doing things like meeting students and faculty, sitting in on a class, and seeing what the dorms look like can help them realize, ‘I can do this.’”
Both Dr. Dr. Lee and Eileen advise families to start the financial aid process as soon as possible, and to work with their enrollment counselor and Student Financial Services to discover the many options available. Eileen also wants students to know that her department can also help them find the resources they need.
“We’re here to help you succeed emotionally and academically,” says Dr. Lee, who oversees the First Generation Success Series. This series consists of monthly workshops designed to enhance graduation and retention rates in first gen students. Topics include academic advising, resources, finances, and how to care for your mental health.
SEU provides opportunities to meet with academic advisors and Dr. Lee recommends taking advantage of this opportunity by meeting with your advisors throughout the semester to ensure that you stay on track.
First gen students, we’re here for you! At SEU, you’ll find all the support and resources you need to succeed — and to discover your divine design.
Watch First Gen Stories
By Elizabeth Grainger, SEU Student