By: Becky Bobek, director, Learning, Assessment, & Navigation Experiences Research
As students across the nation head back to the classroom, we are celebrating First-Generation students. A First-Generation College Student is defined as a student whose parents didn’t attend college; or is the first person in their immediate family to attend college; or neither parent has at least one year of college. This month, we are sharing stories from ACT colleagues who are First- Generation College Students.
What was your motivation for going to college and earning a degree?
My motivation for going to college was that I loved learning; learning was a way to figure out who I was and where I was going. I knew there were so many things for me to learn, things that I didn’t even know existed before I went to college. I wanted to earn a degree because I thought that was going to be important for me to succeed. I had no idea what I was going to do, but a degree was going to help me be successful.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as a first-generation college student?
My biggest challenge was being different than others in my college, and thinking that it was somehow not okay to be different. They had money to do a lot of things I couldn’t afford to do. Their parents would talk with them about college, but my parents didn’t know about college and hadn’t graduated from high school.
What advice would you give to a first-generation college student today?
College is a great opportunity to become more than you ever thought you could be if you are open to the experience and able to be yourself.
Becky Bobek is director of the Learning, Assessment, and Navigation Experiences Research department, where she supports scientifically understanding the conditions and processes that influence people’s education and work experiences. With a research and practitioner background, her work focuses on how people navigate their education and career transitions successfully – what individuals know about themselves and their environments, and how they use this information to make informed decisions, plan actions, and move along their different paths. She has undergraduate majors in Psychology and English (B.A.) from Coe College, and graduate degrees in the areas of Counseling and Student Development (M.A.) and Social Foundations of Education (Sociology, History, and Philosophy) (Ph.D.) from The University of Iowa.