First generation students make up approximately one third of incoming students in higher education across North America.
These students are the first in their family to attend higher education and adjusting to university can be difficult. Unlike students whose parents attended university, first generation students do not have family members to advise them on how to navigate the implicit structures in higher education. They may not know when or how to approach a professor—or what kinds of questions to ask.
With the goal of creating a safe and positive community, UBC Psychology’s Equity Committee is launching a student community group for first generation psychology students.
Dr. Lillian May, a faculty Equity Committee member, joins us for a Q&A where we learn more about what the committee hopes to achieve and how students can get involved.
Why is the Equity Committee taking action to start this student group?
Universities (and groups within universities) often don’t acknowledge the challenges first generation students encounter–meaning students can feel as if they are the only one struggling! We want to provide these students with a safe and positive space.
What are you hoping to achieve with this new project?
We’re starting this student group with two main goals in mind:
- Meeting other first generation students! Research in educational settings shows that there are benefits to “affinity groups,” or groups formed around a shared interest, identity, or goal. In this case, first generation students can come together to start conversations and to share their experiences.
- Meeting first generation mentors! There are psychology professors, grad students, and alumni who are first generation too! Again, research indicates that first generation students benefit from being exposed to mentors who share that common experience.
What are the next steps?
We really want to know what students would like out of this community for first generation students. Please fill out this anonymous survey as we hope to use student feedback to guide us in creating such a group.
This is also just the start of many new inclusive groups coming to the UBC Psychology community. Next year, the Equity Committee hopes to create more community groups for BIPOC psychology students, LGBTQ+ psychology students, and disabled psychology students.