First generation students face unique challenges, lack of support

Genia Kuypers

Life Reporter

Students often face a lot of confusion when embarking on post-secondary studies. But what if those students had to do it all alone?

First-generation students often don’t have the same at-home support of students whose parents have attended post-secondary education. They are typically faced with learning the application process, as well as the school systems, on their own.

In recognition of that, the second of two workshops surrounding first generation students was held Tuesday at Humber College North campus with a panel discussion featuring current students and faculty.

Almost one in three students registered with the First Year Experience are first generation students within their families, 53 per cent of them being mature students and 59 per cent international. Not only do these students often face logistical issues, according to the panel members, but the culture shock, academic struggle and financial confusion can be difficult.

“I can relate to the students being a first gen, but I also try and relate to the international students since I studied abroad. It only really hit me when I finally got to Sweden and realized I had to figure everything out on my own,” said George Paravantes, program coordinator for Multimedia Design and Development.

Paravantes thinks it’s important to enable his first year students.

“I physically walk them down to the Career and Academic Advising Center. If they have questions I go with them and try and get them answered.”

Davi Lall, a first gen student at Humber, felt similar difficulties voiced through the panel.

“I had to find my own drive. My parents weren’t pushing me to go further in my studies so I never had a push. I found it within,” said Lall.

She remembers having to convince her mother of the value of her education: “She didn’t understand why I had to do homework until late into the night, or commuting two hours.”

Chantal Joy, director of Advising and Student Academic support, is familiar with such challenges although notes that in her own case, “I was pushed from all sides in my family, there was a lot of expectations that I could be one of the two people in my family to go on in school.”

Even when there was family pressure to go on in school, however, people at the workshop learned that navigating everything still often came without much help.

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