Washington State Community College celebrates first generation students

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 10:00 PM EST
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - The college experience can be an overwhelming time for anyone. Especially those who are first-generation students and have very little guidance from those closest to them.

Students such as Maddie Galloway at Washington State Community College learned this the hard way when she enrolled at the school.

“I had to figure out how to apply for financial aid on my own, how to research what schools I wanted to go to, what programs I was interested in, what career paths all of that could lead to," says first-generation student Maddie Galloway. "I didn’t have a lot of guidance from anyone in my family on how to make those decisions or do that research so it was all pretty much up to me.”

However, with Washington State Community College being a school where roughly 73 percent of their student body is in this position, they’ve managed to find a way to assist those like Maddie.

“So, here at Washington State, it’s been really beneficial for me to make connections with people here," says Galloway. "It’s been super easy for me because it is a small school in a small community it’s been great for me. So I have a strong relationship with my academic advisor for instance.”

The college provides many outlets for helping their students from their academic advisors to the student success facility. But the staff says that the most beneficial part for these students is the fact that much of the faculty were first-generation students themselves.

“The most important resource for those students is a professor that knows what they’re going through, that can reinforce to them that they’re on the right track and that they’re headed in the right direction. Because most first-gen students don’t know what to expect,” says associate professor Christina Gaitor.

It’s a big part in helping them into their transition to this point in their lives. Not to mention, a sense of pride in being the first in their family in getting here.

“These students, the first ones in the family to actually seek higher education," says Health and Sciences Dean, Dr. Heather Kincaid. "And so, I think that means a little bit more to them.”

According to the Center for First Generation Student Success, 56 percent of students enrolled in the nation are the first of their family.

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