First-generation college students, or students whose parents have not earned a four-year degree, face unique psychological challenges. Although perhaps supportive of higher education, their parents and family members may view their entry into college as a break in the family system rather than a continuation of their schooling.
In families, role assignments about work, family, religion, and community are passed down through the generations creating intergenerational continuity. When a family member disrupts this system by choosing to attend college, he or she experiences a shift in identity, leading to a sense of loss. Not prepared for this loss, many first-generation students may come to develop two different identities — one for home and another for college.
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