The definition of a first-generation college student is as simple as it sounds: undergraduates who are first in their immediate family to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Online or on campus, the challenges of first-generation college students are similar, from a lack of guidance to competing work and family responsibilities.
How can an online college or university help foster a positive, rewarding college experience for first-generation college students? We’ve compiled a list of ways an online education can aid those who are first in their generation to attend college.
Provide Guidance and Support Services
Perhaps the biggest challenge is simply a lack of guidance, from how to apply to college to help choosing classes. Many online colleges and universities provide round-the-clock advising to assist students with their college education. An online bachelor’s degree program at the right university can provide the type of support many first-generation college students need to thrive.
Help Balance Work and Family Commitments
Many first-generation college students work full- or part-time jobs while they pursue their college education. A significant number also have family responsibilities. The flexibility and convenience of an online bachelor’s degree program enables students to better balance work, academics, and family obligations. With an online education, there’s no need to travel to class. Students can view lectures day or night from the comfort of home, and participate in class discussions where and when it’s convenient.
Promote a Sense of Community
A big part of any college education is becoming part of a community. Enrolling in an online bachelor’s degree program helps provide an instant sense of community, as it requires students to begin communicating immediately with their classmates—something first-generation college students may not experience right away (or at all) in an on-campus environment.
Connect You With Faculty
Approaching professors with questions in person may be difficult for first-generation college students. Between discussion boards, e-mail, video chat, and more, an online education provides the perfect venue for students to get comfortable interacting with faculty. In fact, many students enrolled in online bachelor’s degree programs get to know their professors better than those attending on-campus institutions.
Assist With Financial Aid
First-generation college students may not be familiar with financial aid options available to help offset the cost of a college education. Oftentimes, this lack of knowledge deters these students from pursuing a higher education at all. Online colleges and universities do an excellent job of connecting students with the financial aid support they need to pursue a bachelor’s degree online, from loans and scholarships to assistance with forms.
Develop Professional Networks
Many first-generation college students don’t have built-in professional relationships that those from college-educated families may have. Bachelor’s degree programs at online colleges and universities provide a great way for students to communicate with faculty members who are also expert practitioners in their field, and who may be able to connect them with other professionals in their own networks. An online education can help students make lifelong professional connections that will help them while they’re earning their degree—and well into the future.
Walden University, an accredited online institution, makes it easy for first-generation college students to pursue a college education. Discover how Walden can help you achieve your dreams with an online bachelor’s degree.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.