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K-State Today

January 22, 2016



Friday First-Gen Focus

By Steven Dandaneau

Dear K-Staters,

Each Friday this semester, I will provide a film segment that features K-State faculty, staff and students who have been so kind as to share some of their personal experiences as first-generation students. Today's segment, "My First-Year Experience" features 10 current K-Staters. I know I learned a lot by watching this.

What is a first-generation college student? This simply means that one is working to become the first in their immediate family to earn a bachelor's degree. Approximately 40 percent of each incoming freshman class at K-State is composed of first-generation students; some 7,000 are currently enrolled this semester. So, it's a pretty common experience at K-State.

Is K-State unusual in this regard? Yes and no. As a land-grant university, K-State has been from its founding committed to providing opportunity for all people to pursue the benefits of higher education, and we have an established track-record of above-average first-gen student success. Yet, it is worth noting that the national average percentage of collegiate first-generation students is closer to 20 percent, and that, on average, first-gen students tend to encounter a set of distinctive challenges which make it more difficult for them as a group to successfully reach their educational goals. That's why we have the First Scholars Program and other initiatives to bolster our ability to support this large and diverse K-State community.

As a first-gen student myself, I really appreciate the generosity of the faculty, staff and students who volunteered to contribute to these films. Many thanks also are due to the College of Education, Teaching & Learning Center, and Suder Foundation for producing and supporting them.

Sincerely,

Steve Dandaneau

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies