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First Generationers Seek Support

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

This past week, members of Class Action, a nonprofit organization seeking to address issues of class discrimination, held an informal meeting on campus in hopes of creating a support group for first generation college students. In coordination with several graduate students in the sociology department, Class Action is hoping to connect with the undergraduate population more often during this upcoming semester.

First generation students face many issues, just like those with a learning or language disability, but these issues often go unnoticed. One student who attended the informal meeting was Brooke Schneider, A&S '13. She described some of the struggles she has had as the first person in her family to go to college.

"It is difficult to explain to my parents the value of a liberal arts degree, of studying abroad, or of learning another language," Schneider said. "These are things that I have come to value since being at school. I feel the pressure to prove that a college education, complete with all these dimensions, is worthwhile."

Schneider went on to say, "I grew up in a household where education was not valued. Rather, my parents stressed the importance of hard work in general. They exemplified what it meant to have work ethic, and I am incredibly proud of all they have accomplished." It is topics like these which students like Schneider and others are looking to talk about with other first generation students.

Another first generation student, Ruben Rebolledo, CSOM '14, discussed his experiences of being the first in his family to go to college.

"I feel like it is difficult when you don't have someone to lead by example, but at the same time having that label is definitely something to be proud of," Rebolledo said.

Many students may not be aware how many first generation students there are at BC. There are estimates that around 15 percent of the undergraduate population are the first in their family to go to college. This appears to be a surprisingly high number, given BC's financial and academic demands.

BC offers many resources for those with special circumstances, but some first generation students feel resources could be more publicized and accessible.

"It seems that BC has resources for nearly every type of student with special circumstances, but I think that this University is lacking a support system specifically for first generation college students," Schneider said. Rebolledo echoed her comments, saying, "It's a special learning experience that definitely requires a lot of outside resources."

BC does offer some resources to first generation students through its Learning to Learn Department (LTL), located on 50 College Road. All members of the staff in the LTL are first generation college graduates, giving them the ability to connect personally with current first generation students.

Among many other services, the LTL "provides an array of services such as academic, financial aid, career and personal counseling, and informational and educational workshops." With Class Action hoping to foster interest amongst first generation undergraduates, students like Schneider and Rebolledo will now have a variety of resources, both from faculty and peers, at their disposal.

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