The Challenge of Coming in First: Helping First-Generation College Students Win Beyond Getting In
First-generation students are those whose parents did not attend post-secondary education or attended some college and did not earn a degree. FGCSs report lower life satisfaction, have fewer on-campus supports, and are more likely to leave school early. This chapter describes the case of an older teenager with major depressive disorder who is the first in her family to attend college despite multiple psychosocial barriers. Although stable at the time of admission, she begins to relapse as she struggles to find her place in college and campus mental health services. Discussion focuses on the social, familial, and academic challenges FGCSs may face, considers how the transitioning psychiatrist should examine the student’s unique psychological needs, and proposes that universities connect students to academic and social support services and make mental health treatment easily accessible.
KeywordsFirst-generation college student TRIO Minority college students First graduate First-generation college student support services
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