Although there are programs that assist various groups, such as EOPS which helps first-generation college students, Cerritos College president Dr. Fierro doesn’t want to believe in labels.
“I would like our campus as a whole to become aware that we also serve first-generation students,” Fierro stated.
A student is considered first-generation if neither of their parents graduated high school.
According to a presentation given by Dr. Fierro at this year’s convocation, about half of today’s college students fit into the first-generation niche.
The first-generation college student initiative will become a reality soon.
Dr. Fierro hopes to launch this initiative in the future.
The Cerritos College president said, “I want to make sure we are serving 100 percent of our population. I understand that we also have minorities who are first-generation students.”
Biomedical engineering major Emmanuel Osorio, is a first-generation college student and believes the program would be beneficial.
Osorio shared the story of his mother who came to the United States at age 13 and only went to middle school and partial high school.
His older sister did not complete high school either and as the middle child his mother is proud of him being a high school graduate and a college student.
Osorio said, “I feel I can give my little brother advice now that I’ve experienced the college application process.”
According to Dr. Fierro, first-generation students are less likely than second-, third-, etc. generation counterparts to start attending college straight out of high school.
The average age a first-generation student starts college is 22.
Furthermore, these students take longer to graduate college taking more than four years to complete their education.
Only 27 percent of first-generation students graduate within four years while 42 percent of students whose parents went to college graduate within that time frame.
Computer animation major, Liliana Gonzalez explained that she was fortunate enough to have an older sister who has gone to college to help her through the application process.
Gonzalez said, “My parents didn’t go to college they wanted me to go to college.”
Both Osorio and Gonzalez expressed that being first-generation students can be difficult at first, but the first generation initiative will be beneficial.
The first-generation initiative is still in its planning stages and Fierro will give the word when it is officially active.