We can talk about rankings and endowments, scholarships and prestige, but I believe the most powerful and best reason for the increasing competitiveness of college admission is attributed to the thousands of first-generation college students who not only see a college degree as attainable, but necessary to change the trajectory of their family’s path.
I recently had a conversation with a 30-something still working towards his degree. Though he has attained some professional success, when I asked if he’d do it over the same way, he said no. He can only recall one teacher (in middle school) who he felt cared and by the time he got to high school, not only did he not know what it took to go to college, but he said everyone had written him off and he had written himself off, too. Now, as an adult, his options for professional growth are limited because he doesn’t have that B.A. and he’s left with regret, yet now, in between his many responsibilities, he’s also fitting in working towards his degree. True, his bad behavior was partly to blame for his path, but witnessing first hand, his innate intelligence, resilience and aptitude to understand complex problems and develop solutions, I wonder how many talented students were literally pushed to the side because they were difficult to manage.
Over the next few weeks, we will profile some amazing first generation college students and soon-to-be first generation college students. If you’re first generation or know someone who is and would like to share your story, we welcome you to post in the “Leave A Comment” section.