If you follow me on Twitter, or if you follow this blog, you probably realize or would quickly remember that I attended undergraduate school at West Virginia University (WVU – Go Mountaineers). You may even remember that I started undergraduate school at the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs). If you read a few older posts, you might even remember that my brother and I were two of the four children in our generation to attend college from within our extended family. The four of us were all first-generation students, i.e. no one from our parent’s generation had gone to college.
That’s not a bad thing, most every family in our parents’ generation did well, as measured by the socioeconomic metrics at the time. However, when we landed on our respective campuses, we were on our own. The fact that my brother and I both attended out-of-state schools, added a little extra meaning to “on your own” and it wasn’t always easy.
WVU recently started paying a little extra attention to these first-generation students. An email I received led me to an article that describes the way some first-generation professors are helping these students:
“A number of students beginning their academic career at WVU are embarking on a journey that no one in their families have before, becoming the first generation of their families to earn four-year degrees.
That experience comes with unique challenges for students as they make their way through an unfamiliar culture with its own language and expectations. How do I talk to my professor? Can someone help me understand the syllabus? If I need tutoring, is it free?
Take heart, though. We’re here to help. What’s more, a number of faculty in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences had the same experience. They too were once first-generation college students excited about the future, but anxious about asking for help and speaking up in class.”
Following that, WVU started an outreach program within the alumni community. They created a website, a newsletter and a mobile app. Through those conduits, they are giving alumni a chance to participate in helping these first-generation, as well as other, students. We (alumni) have opportunities to register as mentors, advisers, resume reviewers, etc. Although my undergraduate experience is over 40 years old, I have agreed to help, if students or other alumni think my advice/experience/opinion would be useful. I was lucky to have some very good advisors when I was in school, so I know how beneficial this advice can be.
The “We are the World” Blogfest is in its 8th month of a year-long journey. This blogfest’s goal is to spread the message of light, hope and love in today’s world. We are challenging all participants to share the positive side of humanity. This month’s co-hosts, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese, Belinda Witzenhausen and Guilie Castillo, welcome participants and encourage all to join in during future months. #WATWB is a blog hop on the last Friday of every month. Click HERE to check out the intention and rules of the blogfest and feel free to sign up at any time between now and February of 2018.