For first-generation college students, their families, and schools, there are many quality resources available both in print and electronic form to provide insight and encouragement to students and to help provide educators and administrators understand how we can support and prepare students to be successful in college. These sources have identified characteristics of many first-generation students, the challenges they face, and factors that contribute to their academic and personal success.
- Peterson’s Explore Colleges and Universities.
This online reference tool allows students to complete college searches based on criteria such as location, setting, size, type, and religious and ethnic affiliation. It also searches for accredited schools based on degree types, majors, diversity, campus life, and selectivity. Along with this search tool, this reference provides articles on types of financial aid, filling out the FAFSA, timelines for college planning tasks, and an advice center with articles appropriate for both prospective college students and their parents.
- “Iowa College Access Network.”
This site is one of the most useful, informative resources for Iowa parents, students, and school counselors. A great place for students and parents to start is the Download tab, which offers college planning checklists for juniors and seniors, a complete list of Iowa Post-secondary institutions, tips for college visits and college success, and various credible resources on financial aid. This section also includes helpful information for high school freshmen and sophomores about academic planning, career exploration, and study strategies. This site features an up-to-date calendar on college fairs and financial aid presentations put on by ICAN.
- “Straight from the Source: What Works for First-Generation College Students.”
Using information from focus groups conducted with first-generation college students previously enrolled in pre-college programs, this Pell Institute report relates findings on helping first-generation college students succeed in college. Teachers and counselors will appreciate the suggestions these students provide on for raising their first-generation students’ aspirations about college. The study emphasizes the importance of involving the family while navigating the college admission process and the transition into college. Characteristics of successful pre-college programs are described, along with strategies schools, parents, and students should employ to increase changes of college success. Students will find this study easy to read and may relate to the first-hand student accounts of their experiences.
- “First in the Family”
Divided into two sections—“Your High School Years” and “Your College Years”—this student-friendly website offers helpful links in a multimedia format. Students can watch videos of first-generation students telling the story of their college journey. The site offers statistics about race, income, and the opportunity gap, planning checklists for each grade of high school, and link to excellent resources for students. Students approaching college will appreciate the audio shows about academic culture shock, balancing work and college studies, peer support, becoming a scholar, and other relevant topics.
- “Student Aid on the Web”
Created by the U.S. Department of Education, this site is offered in both English and Spanish, and gives detailed information about the FAFSA process. Features include finders for scholarships, colleges, and careers, and various links to information about student loans and aid. Both parents and students will find the glossary of financial aid terms helpful in navigating the FAFSA.