First Generation College Students in a Virtual World: Challenges and Opportunities

De La Cruz et al. / International Journal of Education and Human Developments / May 2021

First Generation College Students, (FGCS) have been profoundly affected in several key areas, and preliminary research indicates that there is cause for concern (Lederman, 2020). To effectively evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, online instruction and their subsequent effect on first-generation college students, this paper will examine preliminary research that describes barriers faced by first-generation college students. Specifically, the authors will examine areas found to be significant to college retention and performance of FGCS: finances and employment, family struggles, online learning stresses, limitations in access to technology, and issues of mental health. As an academic community, addressing the struggles of this distinctive group of students is crucial. If the multiple stressors of first-generation college students are not addressed, higher education risks losing the unique perspectives, capacities, contributions, and skills of this talented but vulnerable population.