The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


First in the family

ELCA colleges and universities help first-generation college students succeed

Was I the first person in my family to earn a college degree? It's a little hard to tell. My grandmother was trained to teach at what was called a Normal School, now a state college. My mother got her nursing certificate through the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II. My dad didn't finish college, but he always identified with the university and considered himself an alumnus.

College would have been a better experience if I'd learned earlier how to seek help. I didn't know how to choose a school, how to select classes or what my adviser was for — and I didn't ask. I didn't really learn how to study until my junior year. Finally I did learn — and received not only a degree but a good education.

If you ask ELCA college recruitment and admissions staff, a first-generation student may have parents with "a little college" but no degree, no college at all, or even a form of higher education other than college. But however you cut their demographics, first-generation students add to the life and luster of the ELCA's 28 colleges and universities. And our ELCA schools do everything they can to help these students accomplish their goals.

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