Being a Parent of a First-Generation College Student

CollegeAdvisor.com (formerly Bullseye Admissions) presents its webinar on Being a Parent of a First-Generation College Student in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with a Bullseye advisor. Our presenter will share their insider perspectives on the college process as a first-generation college student. They will share their insights with parents, and students and parents are both welcome to attend. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!

Date 11/15/2020
Duration 44:38

Webinar Transcription

2020-11-15 Being a Parent of a First-Generation College Student

Huh. Hi everyone. And welcome to the bulls-eye admissions webinar on being the parent of a first-generation college student to orient everyone with the webinar, timing and different chat tabs we’ll start off with a presentation, then we’ll be answering some of your questions in a live Q and a. On the sidebar and in the public chat, you can download our slides in the handouts tab and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a tab.

First of all, hello my name is Tyra and I graduated from brown university. Just in May, 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in education studies. I currently work in education. I’m very passionate about education. So I’m excited to talk to you all a bit about my experience and some things that you might want to think about when you’re thinking about first-generation students.

And also tests is here for tech support. Feel free to private message her if you’re having any tech issues. So start off, we have a poll, which aspect are you most interested in hearing more about? And we’ll give a moment for. Some responses to come in.

Okay. So we have the financial aid process for one.

Okay. Yeah. We’ll be able to discuss things about the application process, the financial aid process the first-generation experience during college and some other topics that are related there. So moving right along. What even is a first-generation college student. I feel like this is a question that can be on a lot of people’s minds.

And to be honest, it really depends. If you’re talking about a first-generation student, to qualify for a certain like scholarship or program or something, those scholarships and programs will have their own individual rules for how to determine that. But in general first-generation college student refers to students who are.

First in their family to go to college. Now this could mean a lot of different things. So I included some examples here. So students whose parents or guardians did not attend college at all. So the idea is that these students might. Be a lot less familiar with college, with resources associated with college, with how to apply to college because they don’t have that background in their family.

Also students whose parents are guardians did not get a four-year degree. This is actually my situation. My parents started school at a community college. They didn’t finish. And so again, there, they didn’t know about how to navigate. Things having to do with four year colleges and especially with schools like brown.

Another definition that comes up sometimes is students whose parents or guardians may have gone to college, but did not go to college in the United States. And that’s like a little bit different from those other two. So you really want to check if you are trying to apply to something specific that requires you to be a first-generation student if you fall into that category and of course these diverse definitions mean diverse challenges and just, differences between individuals which we’ll be able to talk about a little bit more as this webinar goes on.

So just to give a little overview, of course, we can talk about this for hours, but the us college admission system is unique compared to a lot of other countries and in general it’s because it can be pretty holistic. So especially. You are someone whose parents maybe went to school outside of the U S a lot of other countries, maybe college admissions are very based on say the results of one exam that you take or something like that.

Whereas a lot of times in the U S it’s based on a combination of things your grades in school your scores on exams, especially like the sat and the act, but also on things like advanced placement exams if you have those and. Essays are, usually a part of the admissions process for any four year institution.

And the amount can vary. And what they ask you to talk about can vary depending on the school. In some cases also interviews where you’re interviewed and they’re also using that to determine if they want to admit you. So there’s a lot of different things to keep track of that a student will be doing in the application process and just a lot of areas for strategy.

This is part of why Because this can all be pretty confusing to prioritize and organize sometimes. So another thing that comes up quite often is how do I pay for college once again? We could talk about this for several hours. But there are a lot of different ways for you to find funding for college.

And I know, so that for me as like a first-generation student, I really didn’t know what they were until. Yeah. I explored it myself and my parents, I really didn’t know. So they were really terrified. I don’t know if any of you have ever looked at, tuition and fees at certain schools. There are places where.

Tuition plus room and board is like $75,000 or more. And you might look at that and you’re like, how in the world could I possibly afford to go to the school? And luckily there are things that you can do. Generally speaking, there are a few main sources of aid. Which are based on either your need your merits.

Maybe like your grades or different things that you do, if you play a sport, if you are, really good at a certain thing. And then some other special cases. First is institutional aid. So this is the money that an actual school will give you to go to college. And that could be based on need or merit.

So for example, someone whose family does not make a lot of money might get more aid than a student whose family, makes more money and has more assets. But that also really depends on the school in general schools that have more money and have more resources are going to help their students a lot more with paying for school than other places.

So for example I went to brown and brown recently launched an initiative called the brown promise and what this did is. It’s just how it, where did I even start? Okay. What this brown promise did, was it basically just made brown give more money in their financial aid packages to allow students to attend the school before you had, you might have loans as a part of your package and the brown promise eliminated those loans.

But, yeah, that’s more the institutional side. Also some schools, especially public universities, but also some private too. We’ll have merit based scholarships. This is what it sounds like if you have really good grades, if you If you have really good grades in general, that’s one way, but also if you’re accomplished in specific fields.

So for example, I have a friend and she dances, she’s like a really amazing dancer. So she was able to go to school on a scholarship. For a dance. And so as the terms of that scholarship, she had to take dance classes there and stuff, but they gave it to her because she was a really good dancer. So there are also merit scholarships that are more specialized too.

Especially like things that you want to study. And just maybe accomplishments that. You’ve had another one is government aid and government aid is quite the maze and can be very confusing. But the basic idea of it is if you’ve ever, heard of FAFSA or if you’ve submitted a FAFSA, the idea of a FAFSA is that you tell the government here’s how much money my family makes.

Here’s, Our assets and everything, and the government does calculations and they give you a number called the EFC. And that’s your expected family contribution. And your EFC is basically what the government thinks that you can afford to pay based on the information that they got from you about it.

Your financial situation. And just because they think that this is the amount you’re able to pay doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. I know my EFC was higher than definitely higher than I could afford to pay. But that number is then sent to school. And some schools will match that amount.

So those are schools that they’ll advertise themselves as meeting a hundred percent of students demonstrated need. And what that means is that say your EFC is $5,000. The school will put together a package so that they expect you to pay $5,000. That’s what the government thinks you can pay. So that’s what the school thinks that you can pay, but not every school will do that.

Some will not match the EFC. So that’s something to con to think about. Another major aspect of government aid is grants and loans. So government grants are. Cover a range of things, but for the most part, they are need based. If you’ve ever heard of a Pell grant that’s for low-income students.

I was also a low income student, so I received Pell grants every semester. The amount is different based on the amount of need that they think you have, but that’s, a helpful thing. If you qualify for that. They also have grants that are based on specialized things. For example, if you’re doing a teaching program for certain high need areas of teaching, you could get a grant from the government to help you with that.

So you could definitely look at programs like that with government aid. And then there are loans. We all know that a lot of people in the U S have a lot of loans and one source of loans is federal loans. And generally speaking, federal loans are pretty good to get if you need to get loans because their interest rates are much lower not to get super low.

Mathematical here, but their interest rates are lower than a lot of private loans that you’ll find and their terms can be better. It could be easier with federal loans to say, you can’t afford to pay. You can you can file with the government and say that you can’t afford to pay. And there’s a better chance that will go well for you with federal aid.

Some private loans, which can be very scummy sometimes. So you have the opportunity to apply for loans from the government. And there are different kinds of loans, which I won’t get into right now. But those are there. Just to note about federal aid, is that Ooh, I haven’t really been breathing while I’m talking.

Just a note about federal aid is that immigration status can affect eligibility for different forums of aid. Generally speaking it’s good to know your parents’ immigration status does not affect your eligibility for federal aid. But if you are undocumented or if you are a DACA recipient, You can’t receive federal aid, you can still fill out a FAFSA and you could get aid from your school or from the state, depending on what state that you live in.

But you’re not eligible for federal. Next is private loans. And there’s not that much to say here, but definitely people use them, federal loans have a limit and have different terms. So there are a lot of situations for people might use federal loans and also use private loans or, maybe only use private loans and these can be through banks or different companies that exist, but you just want to be careful.

Look at the different interest rates and the terms of them, because some of them can be scummy and a little messed up and next we have private scholarships and private scholarships are a great. Option to help you, especially if have things like higher grades and or have these different accomplishments, like my friend, the dancer, for example and private scholarships are scholarships that are given by private organizations.

So for example, I got some private scholarships and one of them was from a community foundation in like my area. So they had nothing to do with my school, but they gave me money that also helped me not have to pay for school. So that’s something that you can look into. I would especially suggest looking at your like town or city your county.

And your state there’s, you have a much higher chance with those than these like really big national ones you might’ve heard of like Coca Cola scholars and that sort of thing. Definitely pursue those. If you feel that’s an option for you, but it’s definitely good to look more locally first.

And finally we have personal savings, that would be ideal. If you could pay ’em out of your own, out of your own bank account, and there are different. Tax credits and savings account through the government that I don’t fully understand, but they do exist. So if you want to look into those, just know that there are some some options there.

When we’re talking about first-generation student experiences Oftentimes people focus a lot on the admissions process and how it can be really overwhelming. To give you an example for me, the high school that I went to was not a like competitive high school. It wasn’t one where people were going to schools that were very selective.

And it wasn’t one where everyone was going. To college after school in general, I would say maybe half of students went to college after high school there. So my guidance counselors were very overloaded and weren’t really in a position to help me, my parents weren’t in a position to help me, et cetera.

It took a lot of kind of independent research and reading a lot of different like forums and articles about how all of these things worked to really Be able to even do the admissions process. Also luckily my sister went to college. I have an older sister who went to college before I did, and she really had to start from scratch.

So luckily I was able to take some clues from her journey as younger siblings do. And that was very helpful as well. But something that people don’t always think about is what happens after, you’re accepted and when you’re actually going to school. Because some people forget that when you’re first-generation, it doesn’t end when you’re accepted and you’re going to school.

And it varies very much depending on individuals and their experiences, but to just give you an example of some challenges that I have heard of, and also have personally experienced at school are Things like navigating university resources and just knowing what’s there for you. Like when I look back on my college experience, I really regret not, going to office hours more because there was a.

Period of time where I didn’t even know they existed and I didn’t know what they were because there was no one there to tell me. But just know that is a very good thing to do. Go to office hours, talk to your professors or things like, what the career center could do. It wasn’t until like my.

My junior or senior year that I actually went there and I was like, whoa, this is super helpful. You like looked at my resume and helped me make it better. And, they would have different events and drives that were just helping you navigate and thinking about your post-grad life and careers and all of that stuff.

Because there’s no. There can be an assumption when you go into college, even though you’re having your orientation events and they’re telling you what’s available and where everything is. If you don’t have a point of reference from, say your family or your friends about what exists and what resources exist in college, it can be very confusing.

And you can really miss out on. Uncertain opportunities just because you really don’t know that they’re there. Another is interacting with university culture, which is a bit harder to explain, but depending on the school that you go to, of course the demographics there are going to be very different.

So for me, I was not just first-generation, but I was also low income and I was going to a school that. Where the average student was like upper class. And I went to school with a lot of rich people, a lot of like children of famous people and all of that. And that kind of came with its own culture that I really did not understand and expectations that I really didn’t understand.

Sometimes, if you do go to a school like that finding your community is really important and finding people that you can relate to. And other is hidden costs. It’s not just tuition and room and board, and then you’re done there’s things like books and other supplies. And I know there are schools that have programs to address that.

For example at my school, they had one where I was able to have my supplies covered for a part of my time in school, so that I didn’t have to pay for them because books and things are very expensive. So to be honest with you at the beginning, when they didn’t have that program, I just didn’t buy them.

And if I did worse on assignments, then I did worse. Cause I didn’t. Wasn’t going to buy these books that cost a fortune. But there also can be costs in a less educational way in a less direct way, just socially. And again, this more applies to people who are also low income, but if you have friends who are.

More privileged in that way. And they want to go out to eat and they want to explore and they want to go to concerts and you’re like, I really can’t do this stuff. I don’t have any money to do it. That can sometimes, make you feel. Some kind of social isolation. And once again, that’s where finding your communities is really important.

Campuses host a lot of events in all different corners. And, I had my friends who were also in similar boats as me, and we would just be hanging out on the weekends or over breaks, like in each other’s rooms or going to these free events together. And it was totally great. But if I didn’t have that it would not have been so great.

And finally is imposter syndrome, as we know a college. Degree really does get you further really can help you in the job market. And if you’re not used to these kinds of educational environments, especially if you’re coming from a school that wasn’t so competitive it can be really hard to adjust to the academic demands of college.

So for me, my school, like I said, It was not like a competitive school. We really weren’t doing super intense readings of academic articles or writing long papers or anything. And then suddenly I was in college and I was just expected. To do these things. And it was hard, but of course there are also resources for that.

For example, a lot of schools have writing centers where you can work on a paper with a tutor or just tutoring or just different events to help you learn how to get organized or how to approach different aspects of college in that way. It’s important to know that even if you’re struggling with those things, like I was, sometimes I would think that like I was dumb because I was having a hard time with writing these papers or reading these articles.

And it really wasn’t the case. If I compared my first semester to my last semester, what really made those different. Besides of course me like getting older and finding out things about myself. It was just that I knew how to go about writing papers, how like classes work, how, you’re supposed to approach these things.

It’s not about you, it’s not about your intelligence. If someone doesn’t teach you how to ride a bike, you don’t know how to ride a bike. It’s not because you’re dumb. Someone just has to show you. So I think those are all important things to think about when we talk about what comes after acceptance.

Woo. All right. Yeah. So now that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope that you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slides in the handouts tab or from the link in the public. So now we’re going to move to the live Q and a, where I’ll read through the questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them into the public chat.

So you can see and read them out loud before giving you an answer. And as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinars through the custom link in your email. These went to your students email, not from the webinar landing page. So we’ll give a moment for any questions and I will just take a little sip of water.

Okay. One question that we got was how do you get all the necessary information without being able to get aid from parents? And it’s a little bit hard to know exactly what this person means, but I think. Have some insight into that while I was in school, I actually Switched the parents that were on my file because I didn’t have contact with one of them.

So it’s important to know that when you’re filling out your FAFSA, it only asks for one parent. There is another kind of financial aid application called the CSS profile that some schools will require also. And on that one, you do put down. Two parents if applicable one like custodial parent and one non-custodial parent.

If applicable. So if you’re only filling out a FAFSA for school, then. And there is one parent who you can’t get information from. Then you can just use the parent who you can get information from. And that makes things a lot easier. Also, if for some reason you need to switch parents or switch guardians on your financial aid profile, that’s something that you can do.

For me, I did that in between my first and second year. And you can go to the financial aid office and they’ll help you. And there’s a whole like appeals process that a lot of schools have to change different things on your on your profile. So that. Something that you can do also there are different steps to be taken for people in different situations.

So you can apply for financial aid as an independent student, if that’s applicable to you. Some situations where that’s applicable is if you’re married. I think if you’ve been in the military, I’m not a hundred percent sure on that. And you can also appeal. So for example, if you were like orphaned or you were in.

Like the foster care system or something like that. That’s another example where you can apply as an independent student or in very extreme cases say of like abuse or neglect from both parents. You can also appeal to be able to do that way. So there are options if getting information from parents or guardians is not so easy for you.

Hope that helps. Another question that we got is how do I get funding for college if I’m on campus? So I assume this means if you’re already at school and you’re already on campus, How can you get more funding? So of course if you never applied for financial aid, you can apply in future years.

For example, if your family didn’t need any financial aid your first year, and then they needed it, your second, you can apply in your second year generally. But in terms of increasing funding, there are a few things that you can do. So one thing that you can do potentially is to appeal the financial aid office.

And this will have varying degrees of success, depending on the case that you make the school that you’re at and what their policies are. If your family goes through some kind of change in finances, say that like someone is sick and now you have a bunch of medical bills, even though you have the same, like income.

Like that’s an example of a situation where you could appeal and the school can potentially give you more funding that way. There’s also of course, scholarships and grants. So in the same way that I will actually go back here. In the same way that we were talking about private scholarships and merit based scholarships in school during the initial application process, before you go to school, these things can also exist once you’re already there.

For example, there was a scholarship that I got to study abroad. It was specifically for study abroad. I was I’m going to go abroad the next semester and I was already in school and I was able to apply for that. But there are also scholarships just in general that are open to people who are already in school.

So you can look for those once again, You can look for things that are based in your area for people from your area. But you could also look at different characteristics about yourself. There are truly scholarships for life. Everything there scholarships for like people above a certain height, their scholarships for people of certain like races or ethnicities or Heritage’s, there are scholarships for people who do different things.

If you play a certain instrument if you dance, if you did like debate in high school, all of these different categories. And there are also scholarships, very commonly based on what you want to do. So for example, if you want to study engineering, there are scholarships that are only for people who want to study engineering or, to go into teaching or.

Basically any field, like there, there probably is a scholarship for that. So you really just have to honestly start on Google, start on any scholarship search engines and look for them that way. And there’s also the potential that if your school has merit based scholarships, that, there are ones that are open and maybe you qualify for them.

You know now and can apply for those. So that’s another option. Okay. Thank you back here. And we have another question. I have an older son who will graduate this year and another child who will be a junior this year. Will we be considered as parents of first-generation college students. This is an excellent question.

And the answer is, it depends on what you mean by that. Generally speaking I would say yes, like I was in that situation. My sister had already gone to college, but me and her together were the first generation of people to go to college in our family to go to a four year university and finish So if you’re just talking about it from more of a, for lack of a better term, a like identity perspective that really depends on just how you feel how the student feels about their position, their familiarity with resources, all of that.

If you’re talking about if they would be eligible for certain scholarships, Programs, et cetera. Then just like before you would want to check these specific qualifications that are listed for those things. And if they don’t have any, then you can probably go for it. And if they do, then you can just check and.

They can potentially qualify as first-generation college students. Honestly, they probably would, but I guess maybe I don’t have the authority to say that. Okay let’s go back again. Okay. Another question we got is where do I find other funding or scholarships for my child based in the UK, wanting to study in the U S.

So I am definitely not the best person to ask this question. I’m not from the UK, I’m not familiar with their programs, but in terms of international students, there can be programs and support from like the government or organizations in that country. So that’s definitely something to look at.

Just like on Google or through like government websites or either like federally or like on a slightly more local level. Additionally there is the possibility, again, that you could be able to get those like merit based scholarships that are at an institution, for example. Maybe in your college search, you would want to prioritize schools where you would have that because while many schools have like merit based scholarships, not all of them do. So you may want to look at ones that have those kinds of programs say like an honors college or something like that within the school.

Or have scholarships that you can apply to that are open to international students? Unfortunately, there are definitely a lot of scholarships that are based in the U S and are only open to domestic students, but there are definitely ones that are open to international students. So again, he’s just going to have to really look for them.

Really Google. Different characteristics of yourself and your application, and be able to find those Yeah. So I hope that helps. So now we’re part way through the Q and a as a quick break, I just want to let you know what you can do after this webinar. If you want to get help on your college apps from any of our bulls-eye advisors.

So bullseye has two advising plans, the starter plan and the scholar plan. They’re both monthly subscriptions where you get matched with an advisor of your choice. And you get one or two hours of one-on-one advising each month. We have a very wide network of advisors, say that you’re really interested in a particular school.

You could maybe get an advisor who goes to that school and who knows, can talk to you about what that school is can talk to you about, strategies for your application because applications to different schools can require different things. Yeah, you can be matched with an advisor.

It really just suits your needs in this way. And as advisors, they will work with you on your college essays, choosing schools, interviews, and more, you can see it listed here. So I’m sending everyone in this panel to the link to get started.

Oops.

Okay. If that interests you. All right. And yeah. So the offer links to our page to sign up and get started. Our students at bullseye have had a ton of success working with an advisor. This past admission season. We have bulls like clients get into all the IVs and every top 25 school in the country.

Our clients rate us 9.8 out of 10. And that’s because advisors put a ton of care into working with you. One-on-one through every step of your application process. And I can tell you as an advisor myself, We really do take it seriously and really do try to meet your needs in whatever way that we can.

We many of us have different specializations and different, aspects that we’re more familiar with. For example, that UK funding question, we have international students or people, familiar with the UK who can answer those questions much better than I can. Okay. So yeah, if you want to discuss one-on-one, this is a great chance to work with us.

Now continuing with the Q and a, and I’ll take another sip of water.

Whoops.

Okay.

I will give more time for questions because that’s all that I have for you. But if we have no more questions, then we can also end this early. Of course. You can receive more info in other ways. So I’ll just take the time to go over that with you right now. Unfortunately you cannot work with me because I will actually be leaving bulls-eye very soon, but you caught me in the right time. So I hope that this webinar was helpful for you. Our next webinar will be in two days on Tuesday. And this will be about applying for financial aid for federal financial aid as a student with disabilities, because there can be some differences in that process.

We also have our entire November series listed here and on the website, which you’ll get redirected to when you have the session. Thank you so much for coming out to tonight’s session. I hope you all stay safe. I’ve had a great time telling you a bit more about my experience and I hope that it’s been helpful.

Good luck on your applications. Bye everyone.

Ooh, we just had a question. Will the recording of this webinar be. Emailed to us and yes, it will in the next few days. So don’t worry about that. All right. Good night.