Changing the Experience of First-Generation College Goers

Topics: Early College High School, Education Policy, ESSA

“Never before had I truly felt such an extreme sense of estrangement and alienation,” he says of his first few months. “I quickly realized that although I may look the part, my cultural and socio-economic backgrounds were vastly different from those of my predominantly white, affluent peers. I wanted to leave.”

This was the experience of a first-generation college goer, as shared in an Atlantic Monthly article by Liz Riggs. Experiences like these are a major hurdle to meeting President Obama’s college completion goal: that by 2020, America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Throughout her article, Riggs did well at outlining the challenges that many first-generation college goers face as well as outlining some tools that can help them succeed, such as mentoring. One item missing from her article was early college high schools, which can help reduce the cost of college as well as ease the transition from high school to college.

At KnowledgeWorks early college high schools, we create individualized learning plans for students, provide them the necessary supports and create an atmosphere of high expectations. Students at early college high schools will have a four-year academic roadmap that accelerate them through a rigorous high school course of study and up to 60 hours of college credit before graduation. At our partner schools, we reach underserved student populations including students from families without college experience, low-income, English language learners and students of color.

We’ve seen students leave early college high schools go on to have successful academic careers at traditional four-year colleges, succeeding despite any challenges that may accompany being a first-generation college goer.