Supporting First-Generation College Students
By Ally Pearsall, College Adviser of Franklinton High in Franklin County
Navigating college life can be nerve-wracking, even with the support of family members and friends who are having or have had similar experiences. Being the first person in your family to attend college can be described in one word: revolutionary.
At Franklinton High School (FHS), almost half of the seniors have parents who did not attend or complete a four-year degree; because of this, I felt it was important to celebrate our students who have set a goal for themselves to be the first generation to attend college in their family.
On November 8th, 2019, FHS celebrated First Generation College Student Day. To celebrate, I passed out stickers and candy to students at lunch, as well as having teachers who identified as first-generation wear shirts that the Visual Arts IV class had designed. A lot of my Seniors knew they were going to be First Gen already, but what I thought was the most successful from that day was how other students, especially the underclassmen, realized that they could be the first person in their family to go to college and that it would be an accomplishment. This unexpected outcome will be so important as these younger students finish high school and decide what to do with their futures.
By working in this school, the most surprising thing has been how the students have impacted me. Some of my first-generation students are the most tenacious and determined individuals I have ever met. Two, in particular, had very extreme family living conditions, and yet they have still made this decision to create a better life for themselves and to take advantage of educational opportunities. I am so proud of all of my students for their dedication to their goals. I hope to keep working to be one of their stepping stones to success.