The pursuit of a post-secondary education can be challenging for many reasons. Some find it difficult to balance academic and personal responsibilities, while others struggle to fully participate and engage in the university experience. If you are a first-generation university student (a student whose parents have not received a university degree), post-secondary life may be especially demanding for a number of reasons. For instance, first generation students may be at a disadvantage if they do not have the same level of familial support and access to knowledge of how university works as continuing generation students.
In an effort to gain a better understanding of some of the challenges facing first-generation university students, I had the opportunity to speak with a mature first-generation student about her experiences navigating through York. Fatima, an upper year mature student, is part of the first generation in her family to attend university. According to Fatima, the biggest challenge she faced as a first-generation student was not knowing what was expected and required for her to be academically successful. During her first semester at York, Fatima constantly felt overwhelmed and unprepared. She did not know what to do to succeed and achieve the goals she had set for herself. After a difficult semester, she decided to seek advice from her faculty steps she could take to improve her performance. Her faculty advisor assisted her in accessing different resources at York that provided her with the support and information necessary to achieve her goals.
If you are a first generation student at York, it is important to ask for help if you ever feel overwhelmed by your academic and non-academic responsibilities. Studies have found that first generation students who participate in programs aimed at improving their success, have a smoother transition into university than first generation students who do not access these programs. If you have any questions regarding the resources available to first-generation students, contact ACMAPS.